Tuesday, August 19, 2014

National media lend hand to race riots by portraying murderous thug as angelic college student

Liberal darling Michael Brown robs a convenience store just minutes
before his death while charging a policeman.
    It's interesting how the media works hard to portray violent criminals like Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin as angelic victims of the excesses of white people.
    Here's how The New Yorker described the death of Michael Brown, of Ferguson, Mo., in a August 11, 2014, article entitled "Why Did Micheal Brown Die?":
Michael Brown didn’t die in the dark. He was eighteen years old, walking down a street in Ferguson, Missouri, from his apartment to his grandmother’s, at 2:15 on a bright Saturday afternoon. He was, for a young man, exactly where he should be—among other things, days away from his first college classes. A policeman stopped him; it’s not clear why. People in the neighborhood have told reporters that they remember what happened next as a series of movements: the officer, it seemed to them, trying to put Brown into a car; Brown running with his hands in the air; the policeman shooting; Brown falling. The next morning, Jon Belmar, the police chief of St. Louis County, which covers Ferguson, was asked, at a press conference, how many times Brown had been shot. Belmar said that he wasn’t sure: “more than just a couple of times, but not much more.” When counting bullets, “just” and “not much more” are odd words to choose.
    And then.....
How does the choreography of Michael Brown’s afternoon form a story that makes sense?  It cannot, or must not, be easier for the police to shoot at an eighteen-year-old who is running—away from the officer, not toward him—with his empty hands showing, than to chase him, drive after him, do anything other than kill him. Teen-agers may not always be prudent; there is no death penalty for that, or shouldn’t be.  
    Now let's look at the facts. Yes, Michael Brown was walking down the street -- the middle of the street -- in broad daylight. He looked to be high on drugs. He had just robbed a convenience store and beaten the owner in order to steal a box of Swisher Sweets cigars. A policeman told him to get out of the middle of the street, at which point Brown -- no doubt thinking he was about to be appreheded for his robbery -- attacked the policeman and attempted to get his gun and murder him. Brown then fled, but later turned and charged the policeman, again in what can only be presumed an effort to murder him. The policeman fired, and felled the thug as he was charging him, with Brown's body finally coming to rest a mere three feet from the policeman.
    In order to further the myth that blacks are somehow frequently mistreated at the hands of the police The New Yorker -- and many other media outlets -- printed things which simply were not true. For example, it said that Brown was shot while running from police. Yet three different autopsies have found that all of the bullet wounds entered Brown's body from the front, as Brown was charging and attempting to murder the policeman.
    In order to keep the false impression that Michael Brown was some type of victim, the racist Obama administration pressured the Ferguson Police Department not to release video showing Brown robbing the convenience store just minutes before he attacked the policeman. It was important to Obama and Eric Holder that the false sense of black grievance not be tamped down to ensure continued rioting and looting in the streets.
    Certainly there should be people in the streets, but these people should be celebrating the death of notorious thug Michael Brown, not blaming the police for his wrongful death. Since when is it wrong for a policeman to shoot a robber who is in the process of trying to murder him?
    A look at statistics shows that black-on-white violent crime is endemic; White-on-black crime is uncommon. If we're going to keep score of every racial wrong, then let's do it properly; let's keep score. Because a proper accounting shows that blacks aren't suffering at the hands of whites; it's the other way around.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Changing the name of Confederate Drive at Ole Miss is violation of state law

    There's a little glitch in Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones' plan to desecrate the memory of our Confederate War dead by changing the name of the spur road that serves to access the cemetery. He announced plans last Friday to change the name of the road from Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane.
    Such a name change is apparently against the law.
    Mississippi Code 55-15-81 provides that most streets named in honor of military units, organizations or events may not be renamed. This would certainly include a street serving a Confederate cemetery, named in memory of the men interred therein.
    Dan Jones has shown an unwillingness to adhere to the Ole Miss Creed regarding civil discourse. His hatred of Ole Miss and its history is so great that now he wants to break the law to erase memorials to the dead. Isn't it time we had a chancellor who would adhere to the Ole Miss Creed and obey the law?

    The relevant code section reads as follows:
(1) None of the following items, structures or areas may be relocated, removed, disturbed, altered, renamed or rededicated: Any Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican-American War, War Between the States, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, War in Iraq or Native American Wars statues, monuments, memorials or nameplates (plaques), which have been erected on public property of the state or any of its political subdivisions, such as local, municipal or county owned public areas, and any statues, monuments, memorials, nameplates (plaques), schools, streets, bridges, buildings, parks preserves, reserves or other public items, structure or areas of the state or any of its political subdivisions, such as, local, municipal or county owned public areas, which have been dedicated in memory of, or named for, any historical military figure, historical military event, military organization or military unit.

UPDATE AND ADDENDUM: In the space of 10 hours this has become the second-most-read post I've had on this blog, as determined by direct click-throughs. Of course, I do have a few regular readers who just type in the blog name (in fact, I think this is becoming more common).

I really did not come up with this idea on my own. Someone posted a comment on Facebook which cited a Senate or House bill, not the code section. I read this on my phone, and when I tried to find the post on my computer I couldn't. I wanted to give whoever it was credit. But to whoever it was, next time cite the code section! You made me do some work. Also, my good friend John Cofield said he was aware of this information for the past few days and was just waiting for someone to publish it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ole Miss desperately needs a change, but it's not the name that needs changing

    I was glad to read the news that Coliseum Drive on the Ole Miss campus would be named in honor of Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins, who was paralyzed and died a few years later following a tackle-gone-wrong in the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt.
    But how sad that Ole Miss Chancellor – oops, University of Mississippi Chancellor – Dan Jones made the announcement as part of a press release on plans to increase campus diversity. In other words, Jones’ message is that Mullins isn’t being honored for his sacrifice on the playing field, but because he’s black.
    I don’t believe in diversity just for the sake of diversity, but Jones does. But would it have hurt to have announced the renaming of the street a couple of months ago? The renaming could have still been mentioned in Jones’ press release.
    That’s one of the many problems with the “diversity” industry. Once in place there is no way to know whether favored groups have received honors on their own merits or merely because of a special status granted to them through their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or whatever.
    Jones said the university now plans to create a new vice-chancellor position for diversity and inclusion. Such a post might as well be called Vice-chancellor for Grievances and Quota Demands. Throughout academia such posts invariably work to limit academic excellence, free speech, and just about everything that universities should strive to support.
    Once these diversity pot-stirrers become entrenched the list of grievances never ends. No complaint is too trivial, and no one is ever happy. Some people can’t be made to be happy: Give them buttermilk, they want sweet milk; give them sweet potato, they want white potato; give them white bread, they demand wheat bread.
    The University of Wisconsin faculty senate recently approved a diversity plan for that school which calls for “proportional participation of historically underrepresented racial-ethnic groups at all levels of an institution, including high-status special programs, high-demand majors, and in the distribution of grades.” You read that right: the distribution of grades.
    The university has now denied that it is ordering professors to implement race-based grading, and says that the diversity plan is merely a long-term goal, But since the Supreme Court outlawed racial quotas in the 1978 Bakke decision, we all have been able to observe that goals operate as de facto quotas. If there is a goal in place people are expected to meet that goal or suffer consequences. Goodbye academic integrity.
    An organization called Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) repeatedly goes to bat for students and professors who are persecuted for exercising their right to free speech or denied their due process rights. Some of these cases would be funny were they not so sad, such as Indiana University’s 2007 finding of racial harassment against a student seen reading Notre Dame Vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan, which celebrates the defeat of the Klan in a fight with Notre Dame students. But the cover featured a photo of a Klan rally, and thus reading it in public was considered an act of racial harassment. Goodbye freedom of inquiry.
    Jim Crow laws mandating legally enforced segregation came into being because people started voluntarily integrating when it served their interests, and lower-class whites felt threatened by this gradual integration. So they sought to prohibit it. Today it’s the reverse. Although there has been a progressive increase in racial integration based on shared interests, those who feel they have nothing to offer in the way of shared interests want to force diversity through law or regulation.
    Both forced segregation and forced “diversity” are wrong. If the university wants to increase social interaction among those from diverse backgrounds, the way to do it is to encourage or even require campus involvement in clubs, organizations, and committees having nothing to do with diversity. The wrong way is to create a Diversity Gestapo to try to micromanage student lives.
    Jones covered a lot of ground with his press release. He said he plans to change the name of the short lane leading to the Confederate cemetery from Confederate Drive to Chapel Lane. Apparently it’s not enough for Jones to irritate those of us who are living; he’s got to desecrate the memory of the dead as well. This would seem to be an area where the legislature should step in, as it has traditionally helped to ensure that our Confederate dead were properly memorialized.
    The university also plans to erect plaques at various locations around campus, such as next to the Confederate Statue on the Loop, explaining the complexities of Southern history. It’s great that the complexities of Southern history can be reduced to just a few sentences. Why not just create a plaque for each course offered by the university? People could get a degree in a day!
    I think it’s important to take a look back at Jones’ mis-administration over the past several years:
    ■ In the "From Dixie With Love" battle with the students over the shouting of the chant “The South Shall Rise Again,” Jones created a one-time showdown with the students to give himself the opportunity to demonstrate that he was the boss all at the expense of the school. He could have easily prevailed by working behind the scenes, yanking the song for one game, then two, then three, and so forth, until the chant simply would have gone away. But he has a character flaw that doesn’t allow him to behave rationally in this type of situation.
    ■ During the mass alumni protests seeking to have Pete Boone removed as athletic director, Jones shared a podium with two speakers who compared members of the Forward Rebels group to segregationists, Citizen Council members, and speech censors. Although Jones didn’t make these comments, he used their comments as talking points, thus ratifying their defamatory remarks. It was a stunning lack of civility and a violation of the Ole Miss Creed. Jones has not apologized.
    ■ Also during the Pete Boone protests Jones issued a letter to alumni in which he stated that there had been threats to expand the protests beyond the football program. The letter was so poorly worded that newspapers across the nation ran news stories based on the letter that Jones and Boone had been physically threatened, which apparently never happened. Jones never corrected the record, preferring to be known as a martyr than an incompetent communicator.
    ■ The poorly written letter cited above is not an isolated example. Jones seems to be unable to communicate effectively. When he sends a letter to alumni hoping to calm them down, he angers them. Despite months of preparation he was unable to effectively communicate exactly what the plans were for the use of the phrase “Ole Miss,” the delightful English phrase used to describe both our campus and the wife of a gentleman. We have an administrator who can neither communicate nor administrate effectively. But he certainly does a good job of sowing seeds of despair and dissension.
    Ole Miss doesn’t need a new name. It doesn’t need a Vice-Chancellor of Grievances and Quota Demands. It doesn’t need to rename the short road leading to the Confederate cemetery.
    What Ole Miss does need is a new chancellor. Soon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

We rent bikes in Karlsruhe and head to Lindau to start our trip

    Lucy and I finally rented our bikes and got ready to start our adventure in earnest.
    Our original plan was for us to start two days earlier in Chur, Switzerland. My hope was to rent or even buy a bike in Heidelburg, Germany, and then travel to Chur to start our trip.
    We arrived in Heidelburg on a Saturday and nothing was open. I had decided that if I couldn’t buy or rent a bike in Heidelburg I would just rent from the Swiss rail station in Chur. But the cost was simply outrageous, so we waited until Monday and rented a bike in Karlsruhe from a guy operating as Mike’s Bikes. The cost for two bikes for almost two weeks was 230 euros, which was just a little more than half of what we would have had to pay if we had tried to rent in Switzerland.
"Mike's" real name is Martin
    Mike's real name is Martin; he explained the Mike thing to me but I didn't understand. He rents mostly Giant brand bikes, which are considered a cheaper model, which is just fine by me. Those wanting to pay more for a fancier bike can look elsewhere. He has a lot of bikes, and with advance notice could easily equip a group of 40 or more.
    This fee included use of two waterproof panniers, as my bags were too large for the Bushwacker grocery panniers that I brought with me. The Bushwackers worked great for Lucy, though. I’m going to devote a full blog post to this, and carrying one’s belongings while biking is a pretty darn important thing.
    Fortunately our stays in the Heidelburg area didn’t cost much. For our first night in Heidelburg we stayed at the Crowne Plaza on an 80-euro advance purchase rate. A bit high for me but the hotel was near the old town. There was a barber shop connected to the hotel and I got a much-needed haircut, as my hair was getting really sweaty from the heat.
    The next night I used Club Carlson points for a free night in Heppeheim; I was cheated, as I paid extra points for a superior room and didn’t get it. The next night I used a Marriott Rewards certificate for a free night in Karlsruhe. As far as we could tell there was nothing in Karlsruhe but cheap bike rentals, but feel free to make your own judgments.
    Yesterday we got a late start after renting our bikes and headed to Lindau, a little jut-out almost-island on the Bodensea, also known as Lake Constance. Our hotel cost 80 euros, and is one of the few that I’ve had to pony up the money for. The breakfast was nice, but there was no air conditioning. Our room had neither a bathroom nor shower. The location was nice, though
    We had to take fairly slow trains to Lindau as we were carrying bikes, which are not allowed on the faster ICE trains. As a result we didn’t arrive until fairly late. I wish we had made it early, because Lindau is a neat place. We spent some time the next day just wandering about to make up for what we missed the day before.
   Much to our surprise, Lindau closes early. At 10 p.m. everything was closing and we headed back to our hotel to go to bed. There was no air-conditioning, and the room was a sweltering-hot 75 degrees, if not more. Even worse, apparently everything didn’t close at 10 p.m., because at 2 a.m. a bunch of rowdy college kids walked under my window waking me up.
    Enough for this post. My next will detail our first full day of actual bike riding.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Paris, home of lost luggage and really stinky antiperspirants

    Lucy and I have arrived in Paris, thanks to a $50 fare on Iberia Airlines, although we actually flew on its low-cost carrier, Vueling.
    Fifty dollars is a great airfare. Unfortunately, the bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the sweetness of low price. Vueling/Iberia lost my little checked suitcase, which had my seersucker suit jacket, two paris of shoes, several pairs of pants, plus toiletries. Plus socks. Plus more.
    I’m not happy. Technically I’m entitled to replace some of these items, but I’m at the mercy of the airline in seeking reimbursement. European clothes are terrible; they don’t fit the local citizenry properly, and I’m sure none of them will fit me. Plus, from a cost standpoint a really nice pair of pants that costs $25 in the U.S. costs about $200 in Europe. Did I say I’m not happy.
    I went to a Monoprix today to buy some toiletries to replace those in my bag. The St. Michael Monoprix is about as crappy as they come, by the way. Among the things that I needed to buy was antiperspirant. I spent 30 minutes looking at and smelling the varieties on offer. All of the products contained perfume. I don’t want my antiperspirant to work by stinking more than I do. I want an absolute absence of odor. Why can’t I have this? Why? (To the store’s credit they did not have Right Guard and Mennen Speed Stick (the brown kind), which stink worse than any human I’ve ever smelled). I finally bought a product that I thought didn't smell too bad, but the odor from it is making me sick.
    Did I say these jackasses have lost my luggage and I’m not happy?
    Paris was not part of our original plan. I was willing to fly almost anywhere in Central Europe, but the $50 fare to Paris was the cheapest by almost $100 per person, so that’s where we went.
   Two years ago my dad took the entire family on a Mediterranean Cruise, after which Lucy and I spent four days in Paris before returning home. Last year we managed to scrape together enough frequent flyer miles and hotel points for a family vacation to Paris and London.
    So I feel a little like Forrest Gump. Due to the way the airline tickets were priced, Lucy and I had to go to Paris, AGAIN.
    I had planned to make Paris a quick stop, but last year and the year before Lucy was sorely disappointed that she didn’t get to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Tickets have to be purchased a certain number of days in advance, but I discovered that you have to be sitting at your computer right at 9 a.m. Paris time (that’s about 2 a.m. Mississippi time), as the tickets sell out in a matter of minutes.
    I finally got the Eiffel Tower tickets, but using them requires us to stay in Paris for four days. There are worse fates.
    For the past three years I’ve purchased a goodly number of Choice Hotel points during the American Express Daily Getaways promotion. I’ve managed to use these to get decent hotel rooms relatively cheaply. For example, before our family cruise two years ago I was able to treat the entire extended family to a free night at the Hotel Diana in Venice. My cost, about $38 per room, versus about $200 or more if we simply paid cash.
    I’ve booked quite a number of nights with these points for this trip, including our Paris hotel, the Andre Latin. The cost in points per night is 20,000, so I’m shelling out just under $80 per night for a decent Paris hotel room in the Latin Quarter. It’s more than I’d like to pay, but I’m not sure one can pay any less in Paris.
    Now I’m just praying that my luggage will arrive tonight and be delivered to my hotel tomorrow.

No such thing as a 'free' supper after all

    In my last post I reported that our hotel in Lisbon was pre-paid and cost $51 per night. This was in error. The rate was actually 52 euros per night; a good deal still, just not as good a deal.
    At checkout I also discovered the mystery of the free meal voucher that we were given. At the time I booked the room I checked the option allowing me to pay for one meal in advance. So a mediocre buffet that would have cost the two of us 32 euros if purchased on the spot “only” cost us 30 euros through our advance purchase. We could have had a far better dinner for less money in Old Town Lisbon.
     With the exception of the overpriced buffet meal Lisbon was a budget destination. We bought a subway pass, two museum tickets, plus a few beers and Cokes, and that’s about it; plus the Augmentin for my sinus infection.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lisbon has been an unexpected surprise

    Sometimes a city will surprise you, and so it has been with Lisbon.
    I don’t think of Portugal as a wealthy county in relation to other EU nations. Democracy came to Portugal while I was in high school, so the history here is quite different from most other European countries.
    In terms of per-capita income, Portugal ranks behind Greece and Estonia, and ahead of Poland and Lithuania. So the country isn’t rolling in money.
    The Lisbon airport was certainly unimpressive. The airport is mostly served by smaller planes which park on the tarmac. We had to take a bus into the terminal building.
    We resisted the urge to just take a taxi to our hotel, which is an easy temptation after a long flight into an unknown city. Instead we headed for the metro. The constant effort to save the $20 or $30 that can be so easily thrown away while traveling is what makes it possible to travel.
    We must have looked prosperous, because two French ladies gave us their unused metro tickets while we were waiting in line to buy our own tickets. My experience is that free metro tickets are always given to those who look like they need them the least, so at least we didn’t look needy.
    The Metro was remarkably clean and modern; certainly far better than the fine systems offered by Paris or London. It’s amazing how nice a metro can be in a city that doesn’t suffer the homeless to defecate, sleep, and urinate all over the common areas!
    Lisbon is a bit like San Francisco, with hills everywhere. Major roads are on various levels, and the sidewalks run up and down a bit like exit ramps. It can be confusing. But the city as a whole is very clean, modern, and pleasant to visit. It's one of the more pleasant places I've been.
    We stayed at a Novotel hotel, in the north part of the city. The downside of this hotel was that it wasn’t really within walking distance of Old Town Lisbon; there were few restaurants in the area and seeing anything required a subway ride.
    The upside was that it is a very nice hotel that I purchased through an advance-purchase special a couple of months ago for $52 per night. A huge breakfast buffet was included every morning, and we got one free supper as well. Thanks to the huge breakfast we did without lunch, and got by with just a snack for our first two nights.
    My biggest unexpected expense in Lisbon has been for some Augmentin. I’ve got a nasty sinus infection that simply will not go away. The cost in Lisbon for sixteen 875-mg Augmentin is about $12, which is pretty reasonable in my book. And the pharmacists were highly trained and did not need a pesky doctor’s prescription.

    On our first day in Lisbon we slept. That’s it. We managed to get checked into our room at 2:30 p.m. and went straight to bed. Lucy slept straight through to the next morning. I got up at around 8 p.m. and had a beer and mini-pizza in the hotel lobby and went back to bed.
Harry Potter was here?
    On Day Two we took a nap after our huge breakfast, followed by a visit to El Cortes Ingles department store and a visit to the old town, where we toured the Church of San Roque and the attached museum. We were mightily impressed, as virtually every surface was covered in gold leaf. Lucy noticed what looked like the Sign of the Deathly Hallows on one of the paintings in the attached museum, which suggests those novels may in fact be based on true events. I couldn't help but notice that the paintings seemed to have a much more vibrant style than paintings I've seen in other countries from a similar period.
    On Day Three we again visited the El Cortes Ingles department store, but still managed not to buy anything. We discovered that the little horsies on Ralph Lauren shirts are about 25 percent larger in Portugal than they are on the American version (we measured). We also saw some people wearing the grotesque Polo shirts with the one-foot-high horsey. Why? We also visited the Castle of King Jorge, atop Lisbon's highest hill.
    Sadly, we missed the Gulbenkian Museum, which is closed on Mondays. We return to Lisbon briefly before our return home, so it is on our list of things to yet to see.
    So the takeaway is that Lisbon is one of the most difficult cities to see in Europe. There is but a single train per day to and from Madrid, and it's an overnighter. But it's a great place to visit. I look forward to coming back for a single day before our return home. I was very surprised at how impressed I was with everything here.
    Tomorrow we head to Paris. Right now I’m off to sleep.