This is your president speaking.

Number 211 in a series

And now a few words from the President of the United States.

The Greatest Presidential Harassment in history. After spending $40,000,000 over two dark years, with unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation, highly conflicted Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!

First of all, in Dallas somebody spat on Eisenhower. Somebody shot Kennedy. That is harrassment at some level.

$40 million? Mr. President, may I have the difference between $40 million and what was actually spent on the probe?

And no, by law Robert Mueller was not allowed to bring charges, no matter what he came across during the investigation. For example:

First, McGahn’s clear recollection was that the President directed him to tell Rosenstein not only that conflicts existed but also that “Mueller has to go.” McGahn is a credible witness with no motive to lie or exaggerate given the position he held in the White House.1884 McGahn spoke with the President twice and understood the directive the same way both times, making it unlikely that he misheard or misinterpreted the President’s request. In response to that request, McGahn decided to quit because he did not want to participate in events that he described as akin to the Saturday Night Massacre. He called his lawyer, drove to the White House, packed up his office, prepared to submit a resignation letter with his chief of staff, told Priebus that the President had asked him to “do crazy shit,” and informed Priebus and Bannon that he was leaving. Those acts would be a highly unusual reaction to a request to convey information to the Department of Justice.

The Washington Post. The Mueller Report . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

How many different ways are there to spell “obstruction?”

And now, for your viewing pleasure:

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 166, unfortunately

This series has been getting some push back from people who truly believe the handgun is their friend. They demand I also feature stories that actually show a handgun can be your friend, at times. In that light I determined to tell the story of my friend Zack who saved his life, killing a man who was about to kill him. But this came up on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, so I decided to show it now and print Zack’s story later. Here is the story behind the above meme:

Hatchet-wielding thief backs down when store clerk pulls out gun – but firearm costs employee his job

Oregon authorities are seeking a would-be thief who was armed with a hatchet when he tried to rob a convenience store, only to flee when the clerk drew a gun and called 911.

However, the clerk’s quick thinking cost him his job, with the president of Plaid Pantry in Oak Grove explaining to local station KOIN-TV that the chain has a zero-tolerance policy for weapons.

He said employees are trained to de-escalate robbery situations to avoid injury, according to the station.

Interesting enough, on the same news half-hour that featured the above was this.

Truth be told, for every one of the first one there is a bundle of the second one. Here is story number two from 25 May:

LAPD officer wounded in South L.A. shooting after traffic stop

Yeah, that’s just what a cop looks forward to when he stops somebody for a traffic violation. Some jerk with a handgun coming out of the woodwork to join in the fun. You gun fans, tone it down a bit.

This series does not address all such stories, because there are too many. Here are a few that did not make the cut this week:

  • 30 May: Groom shot in both legs, hit in head with gun by brother-in-law after argument at wedding reception
  • 27 May: Argument at a late-night party near UTSA ends in fatal shooting
  • 27 May: 11-year-old arrested after 9-year-old brother killed in shooting
  • 27 May: Church Shooter’s Dad Suggested Keeping Bible Under Pillow to Scare Demons Away | Hemant Mehta | Friendly Atheist | Patheos
  • 26 May: Virginia shooting: One killed, others injured at Memorial Day weekend event – CNN

There are several who insist the incidents involving self-defense with guns make all these random shootings worthwhile, and I have asked those people to provide their own stories. When did they ever use a gun in self defense? Who do they know personally who had such an experience? Witnessed such events? How about friends and family killed by gunfire? I’m not getting any responses.

I get stuff like this on Facebook:

John, I hereby sentence you to wearing only shirts that say, “I AM UNARMED.”

I’m sure John has a sign on his yard “Gun-Free Zone.” That’s been so effective at keeping violent perps away.

John Blanton That is what a LOT of people say… until fate strikes them. Get over the idea you seem to have that criminals are nice people that honor our rights.

Daniel G. Kuttner That is what an asshole does.

I left out a lot of the in-between. That last line is apparently in response to something commenter Dan posted. I have no idea what it means.

Anyhow, I have promised a comprehensive post on the value of loose guns, particularly handguns, in society. I will attempt to pick apart some of the arguments on both sides. Keep reading.

Breitbart Mentality

Number 10

Continuing my obsession with the entity calling itself Breitbart News

This showed up in my in-box yesterday. It’s from Breitbart News, an interesting kind of news outlet. The word news would give the impression this is a news outlet. A review of its content would give the impression it is a shill for a corrupt political enterprise.

This came the day special counsel Robert Mueller III resigned his position and spoke briefly to the public, giving his take on the 22-month investigation into the Russian government’s scheme to tilt the 2016 election toward Donald Trump. A major portion of the investigation turned toward those who participated by illegal means to thwart the investigation—something known as “obstruction of justice,” a federal crime in this instance.

The mail page lists several links. I’m showing the top two. The second one reads “…Dirty Cop’s Last Act:: Feeds the Impeachment Beast…” Whoa! “Dirty Cop?” The headline is written with ellipses, making it appear to be excerpted from the linked content. However the linked page is barely more than a litany of comments by Democratic politicians, all referring to impeachment of President Trump. Absent anything else I get the idea Breitbart is referring to Robert Mueller as a dirty cop, the reason being the sum total of his investigation uncovered considerable criminal activity by Donald Trump and the people associated with him and his administration. Some of the president’s actions amounted to impeachable offenses.

To give some flavor to the linked content, there is an image, supposedly a paid advertisement. Here is the linked page:

If you do not already have the idea conservative hardliners are obsessed with law enforcement bias and media bias against their favorite candidate, then you are going to start getting that idea after reading this and another linked items from the same page.

Yes, they want you to confirm mainstream news outlets are biased against Donald Trump. Along those lines I have some breaking news. Mainstream news outlets are biased against all politicians who use public office as a criminal enterprise. They are also biased against bank robbers, mass murderers, child rapists, and generally bad people. I am hoping hard-line conservatives have similar bias. I have hoped in vain in times past.

Abusing Science

Number 25 of a series

Twenty-seven years ago I attended a presentation by health quack Charlotte Gerson. It was an interesting audience. I got into a conversation that came around to homeopathy. Homeopathy, it was explained, works by quantum mechanics. And that was it. Not many people understand quantum mechanics. In fact top physicists remind us that maybe nobody understands quantum mechanics. And that’s the allure. Something this dark and mysterious can be used to explain all manner of questionable proposals. One of these might be transubstantiation.For the uninitiated, transubstantiation is associated with the Eucharist of the Catholic faith. The little wheat wafers, presumably blessed by the church, literally become the body of Christ. How does this work?

According to the Magis Center, quantum mechanics is at the heart. I won’t recap the posting , but the headline catches my attention:

Quantum Mechanics and the Real Presence: What Reality Should We Believe?

After some background we get to the heart of the matter:

First, quantum mechanics is itself a mystery: as the great physicist Richard Feynman remarked, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.”

Second, the theory gives probabilities for alternative results of experiments, probabilities that are confirmed to a high degree of accuracy (much like actuarial results—one may not know when any given person may die, but one does know that among a large number of 70 year old men, a well-defined percentage will die in the coming year).   Even though quantum mechanics is deterministic in a statistical sense, this probabilistic character bothers many physicists. Einstein himself opposed the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, insisting that “God does not play dice with the universe.

Third, from the beginning of quantum mechanics, scientists have posited a connection between the conscious mind and the role of the observer in determining quantum mechanical outcomes in experiments. As d’Espagnat puts it, “The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment.” The conscious mind of the observer plays a role in making a choice of experiments and what is to be observed.

This last part, “… scientists have posited a connection between the conscious mind and the role of the observer in determining quantum mechanical outcomes in experiments,” is problematic. While it is literally true that observation of an outcome, especially one involving quantum-level activity, does make the outcome irreversible, the notion that the observation must be human is imaginary. A classic case is the thought experiment involving “Schrödinger’s cat.” The experiment goes like this.

Put the cat in a closed box. Nobody can see in. Inside the box is a deadly poison, set to be released by a quantum event, e.g., alpha decay. Did the decay occur? If it did, then the cat is dead. If not, then the cat is alive. But until we open the box (as the protocol describes) the cat is in an undecided state. Until we observe the dead/alive cat, the alpha decay happened/did not happen.

The problem with this description is the requirement for human observation. Until we open the box, we may not know whether the alpha decay happened. But the cat does. Actually, any number of irreversible conditions can remove the alpha decay from the undecided state. The alpha decay happens, the alpha particle exits the nucleus. No matter how many cats are involved, the alpha particle is not going back into the nucleus. The outcome becomes final before any cat dies.

Religious hard cases become distressed at the failure of faith to accomplish anything material, anything of substance. Others perceive what is called science envy. If science can be invoked to substantiate religious conjectures, then wanderers can be coaxed back to the faith. Science is having none of that. The claims of the supernatural posited by religious zealots are never going to pass any sensible evaluation for merit. This kind of stuff is, at its base, an abuse of science.

The Magis Center post references the late French physicist Bernard d’Espagnat, who made contributions to this subject. An item I posted back in my college days commented on the so-called EPR paradox and referenced d’Espagnat’s work. Here is a link to a page that’s all about the mysteries of quantum mechanics. John Gribbin’s book In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat is a comprehensive read on the subject.

The Conversation

Number 4 in a series

This breaks slightly from the theme set previously, but it does concern a conversation. It’s a conversation that was reported weeks ago, but it’s one that became salient with recent developments. Anderson Cooper had some fun with it last week on CNN, and the news channel played it with captions. Here it is.

It’s a joy to watch when ordinary words acquire an entirely new meaning.

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 16 of a continuing series

This series is getting to be more fun than the law allows. Catch me if you can, but here comes some more. From my in-box:

DonaldJTrump.com <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
May 23 at 12:38 PM

John,

While President Trump continues working day and night to Make America Great Again, Democrats continue to do the only thing they know how, OBSTRUCT.

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have made it clear that ordering more bogus taxpayer-funded WITCH HUNTS is much more important to them than working on behalf of the American people.

Even after the Mueller Report totally EXONERATED President Trump, Nancy Pelosi said just this week that, “We believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.” She simply can’t accept the facts and is fishing in empty waters.

We have one quick question for you, John. Do you think Democrats should quit obstructing President Trump’s progress and end the Witch Hunt? President Trump wants to hear from you.

I love it when my president addresses me by my first name. He has not yet offered to pay me $130,000, but I’m patient.

There’s a lot in there, but I will leave it for readers to unpack. Here’s my favorite part: “Even after the Mueller Report totally EXONERATED President Trump…” By that definition I hope I never get so exonerated.

Manafort recalled that Trump responded that Manafort should keep Trump updated. Deputy campaign manager Rick Gates said that Manafort was getting pressure about[+ + + + +]information and that Manafort instructed Gates[+ + + + +]status updates on upcoming releases. Around the same time, Gates was with Trump on a trip to an airport [+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +]. and shortly after the call ended, Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming. [+ + + + + + + + +] were discussed within the Campaign, and in the summer of, the Campaign was planning a communications strategy based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks.

The Washington Post. The Mueller Report . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Trump called White House Lawyer Don McGahn in June 2017 and told him to tell the acting attorney general that Mueller had to be removed.

“McGahn did not carry out the direction, however, deciding that he would resign rather than trigger what he regarded as a potential Saturday Night Massacre,” Mueller’s team wrote, referring to the night when President Nixon ordered his attorney general to fire a special prosecutor, triggering a cascade of resignations.

The Washington Post. The Mueller Report . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

After Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and self-described fixer, pleaded guilty and implicated the president in a scheme to break campaign finance laws, Trump deemed him a “rat” and called for Cohen’s father-in-law to be investigated for unnamed crimes.

The Washington Post. The Mueller Report . Scribner. Kindle Edition.

Yes, Bob Mueller, please do not exonerate me.

Quiz Question

Number 206 of a series

This one is from The Moscow Puzzles by Boris A. Kordemsky, page 44.

That’s supposed to be a chess board above, although I have not shaded in the black and white squares. It doesn’t matter, because this is not a real chess game. The black circles are black pawns, about twice as many as in a real chess game. The question is can you set a white knight on the board and proceed to capture all 16 pawns in 16 consecutive moves? Let’s assume you can, then what are the moves?

Post your answer in the comments section below.

Update and Solution

Mike comments this is too easy. Could be. Kordemsky has this to say:

Start by capturing one of the pawns not marked with a red dot in the diagram below.

Then the rest should be straight-forward.

Breathtaking Inanity

Number 15 of a continuing series

I receive these almost daily. They are among the things that get me out of bed in the morning. Let’s start with the first of two.

DonaldJTrump.com <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
May 25 at 3:06 PM

John,

The FAKE NEWS media efforts to lie about all of President Trump’s incredible accomplishments aren’t fooling the American people.

A new poll just released shows President Trump’s approval rating is the highest it’s been in over two years.

The Trump Presidency has led to rampant economic growth, millions of new jobs, and a foreign policy that puts America First. No wonder he’s so popular!

Golly! That is wonderful news, Mr. President. Who knows. Someday your popularity will approach 50%. But stop right there. If you would like to be popular with more than half of the population, then there is a way. It involves tar and feathers, but it would draw large crowds. Give it a thought.

Here’s number two.

Eric Trump <contact@victory.donaldtrump.com>
To: jf_blanton@yahoo.com
May 25 at 10:08 AM

John,

If there’s one thing we can always count on from the Democrats and the FAKE NEWS media, it’s that they will ALWAYS lie to try and get ahead.

You’ve seen it. Every day, they spout lies about my father, my family, his administration, and the nation.

Remember when they attack President Trump, they’re really attacking YOU, John.

Eric Trump. Notice, Eric Trump. It’s not the president contacting me, it’s Eric Trump, second son of the president, and, as Wikipedia notes, head of the Trump criminal enterprise:

A fourth generation businessman (following his great-grandmother Elizabeth, grandfather Fred, and father), he currently serves as a trustee and executive vice president of The Trump Organization, running the company alongside his older brother Donald Jr. He also served as a boardroom judge on his father’s TV show The Apprentice.

Eric Trump is under United States Attorney for the District of Columbia‘s investigation along with Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump in their role their father’s inauguration.

Breathtaking!

Yes. Yes! The Eric Trump who will in the future appear before us in an orange jump suit has contacted me to warn about people spreading lies and FAKE NEWS and soon to be attacking me personally.

This site is, if nothing else, fair. To that end I present some of the FAKE NEWS the second son has advised about.

All right. That’s enough of the FAKE NEWS for today. Eric, let me know when they schedule your sentencing date. I will be there for you.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a series

Coach Blair had a winning team, but there was one problem. He called Lester Clem in for a talk.

“Lester,” he told him, “You’re a great running back, and we need you on the team, but the athletic department requires you keep your grades up. You need to bear down this semester, because I need to see a good grade report if I’m going to keep you on the team.”

Lester agreed to give it his best, but four weeks later Coach Blair called him in again.

“Lester,” he said, “I just received your grade report, and you’ve got four Fs and a D. You know that that means, don’t you?”

Lester shook his head as though he understood. “I see the problem, coach. I’m spending too much time on one subject.”

The Government You Paid For

Number 59 of a Series

I saw it coming years ago. I saw retirement rushing at me like a freight train with brake failure. I made the decision then I would meet retirement head on, and I would use all that spare time to make life miserable for the creationists.

Then something happened about four years ago. Something came along that sucked a vacuum on my spare time. Donald Trump, whatever did I ever do before you? Here’s the latest.

The Donald has gathered a collection of grateful farm people so they can stand around and thank him for saving them from the problem he created. And they stand there, and he speaks. But what is on his mind was what Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said previously, and he cannot get it off his mind. And he expands on it. And he expands on it.

The president had taken a meeting with congressional leaders to discuss legislation for improving the country’s infrastructure, apparently in need of repair and restoration. A problem was the president had no plan for such a program. Not in the least. But he took the meeting, because he had something else in mind. He had in mind something the speaker said about him earlier, and he had his say to the congressional delegation, and then he left. A bare three minutes by all accounts.

So, now, before this collection of grateful businessmen, he uses the opportunity to unload his peeve with Speaker Pelosi. He contradicts her recollection that he slammed hands on the table, saying, “I was extremely calm. I was probably even more so in that room.”

We get it. He was calm. For up to three minutes.

Without his recollections we would would still be in the dark regarding the nature of the people he met with. “You had the group. Crying Chuck [Schumer], crazy Nancy [Pelosi]. Crying and crazy. A sizzling combination. The president says so.

He mourns for Speaker Pelosi. “I’ve been watching her… She’s lost it.” She’s lost it? Maybe somebody can find it for her. Anybody want to take bets?

In the end, President Trump clears up the matter with a simple explanation, something we should all have noticed. “I’m an extremely stable genius.” That’s right. We missed that point. We should have recalled.

He said it before.

Who would have guessed?

So, there is something remarkable to see here. Do you want to know what it is? You think what’s remarkable is the most powerful person on the planet standing before a live feed and telling all he is an extremely stable genius. That is remarkable, but that’s not all I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is a collection of successful American business men standing there with him. And watching. And listening. And not laughing, let alone not running for the exits. That, people, is the government you paid for.

Codswallop 201

Number 7 in a series

Maybe I should change the title of this series. By now the codswallop has reached postgraduate level. For continuity I will stick with 201. Here is something about Hillsdale College from Wikipedia:

Hillsdale College is a private college in Hillsdale, Michigan. Founded in 1844 by devout abolitionists known as Free Will Baptists, it has a liberal arts curriculum that is based on the Western heritage as a product of both the Greco-Roman culture and the Judeo-Christian tradition. Hillsdale requires every student, regardless of major, to complete a core curriculum that includes courses on the Great Books, U.S. Constitution, biology, chemistry, and physics.

Since the late 20th century, the college has been one of several in the U.S. that declines to accept federal financial support, instead depending entirely on private donations.

That sounds fair enough as far as it goes. Most recently under the leadership of Larry P. Arnn the public face of the college has come to embrace the seamiest side of American politics, going the full monty for right wing American ideology and particularly for the Donald Trump. This is apparent from the selection of speakers the college hosts and from the editorial content of their newsletter Imprimis. Here is a recent presentation:

Russian Collusion?

Mollie Hemingway
Senior Editor, The Federalist

Mollie Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor. She received her B.A. from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has been a Philips Foundation Journalism Fellow, a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, and a Pulliam Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Journalism at Hillsdale College. She has written for numerous publications, including The Wall Street JournalThe Washington Post, and Christianity Today, and is the author of Trump vs. the Media.

he following is adapted from a speech delivered on September 7, 2017, at Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.

We keep being told that President Trump is not normal. This much has been blindingly obvious. He had never run for office or otherwise served in a public capacity. He has been accused, not without reason, of breaking all manner of political norms. America’s most nontraditional president was never going to conduct business as usual from the West Wing. Less than a year into his first term, he has already caused much anguish in Washington. This should be no surprise—while running for office Trump repeatedly promised to “drain the swamp” and shake things up. Americans knew who they were voting for, and history will judge the results.

That said, Trump’s nascent presidency has coincided with perhaps the greatest violation of political norms this country has ever seen—a violation that has nothing to do with Trump’s behavior. Since the election last November, there has been a sustained, coordinated attack on Trump’s legitimacy as president following his victory in a free and fair election. This has the potential to cause far more lasting damage to America than Trump’s controversial style.

Democratic operatives and their media allies attempted to explain Trump’s victory with a claim they had failed to make stick during the general election: Trump had nefarious ties to Russia. This was a fertile area for allegations, if for no other reason than that Trump had been reluctant to express criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. By contrast, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly condemned Russia’s 2011 elections, saying they were “neither free nor fair” and expressing “serious concerns” about them. She publicly called for a full investigation while meeting with top Russian officials. This made Putin livid. “Mr. Putin said that hundreds of millions of dollars in ‘foreign money’ was being used to influence Russian politics, and that Mrs. Clinton had personally spurred protesters to action,” The New York Times reported.

You wanna embrace the golden calf?
Ankle, and thigh, and upper half?
Here it is!
I mean, here it is!

We can only guess Millie Hemingway was awash in the Kool-Aid at the time. To be fair, the speech was presented in September 2017, barely seven months into the Trump presidency. However, this was long after the crimes of the Trump administration had become manifest, including the revelation President Trump’s national security advisor had been working back deals with the Russian government and had lied about it when questioned by the FBI. This was also months after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey when the Director refused to back off on the investigation of fired Director Michael Flynn. In the intervening months much additional has emerged, detailing the corruption of Donald Trump and also his administration. You might think Hillsdale, and by association Larry Arnn, would have moderated its support in light of the knowledge. You would be wrong. I was alerted to this Imprimis item by the following sponsored post on my Facebook feed.

What is impossible to escape is the once-reputable Hillsdale College has become a sounding board for the most corrupt administration in our history. We can wonder how future studies at Hillsdale will treat this period of the school’s history.

Breitbart Mentality

Number 9

No surprise—I subscribe to Breitbart News. Stuff drops into my in-box almost daily, some of it most interesting—such as the above. Their RINO Watch feature details Republicans who don’t tow the line, hence RINO—Republican In Name Only.

I need to pause for a moment. Who is to say who is a Republican and who is not? Apparently Breitbart has taken on the task. Here they conclude Republican Congressman Justin Amash, representing Michigan’s 3rd District is not a real Republican. How does Breitbart reach this conclusion? I’m guessing from the headline the Congressman is not a true Republican because he sees real crime in what the president is doing. Here’s an excerpt from the story:

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), the first congressional Republican to accuse President Donald Trump of engaging in “impeachment” acts, doubled down Monday, claiming those who assert the president did not commit any crimes are relying on “several falsehoods.”

In a series of tweets, Amash claimed special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on now-debunked collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russa did, in fact, reveal the president acted illegally, arguing that “obstruction of justice does not require the prosecution of an underlying crime.”

That is a most surprising conclusion, considering the Twitter post they quote:

People who say there were no underlying crimes and therefore the president could not have intended to illegally obstruct the investigation—and therefore cannot be impeached—are resting their argument on several falsehoods:

As our president is fond of saying, “No confusion, no collusion.” Congressman Amash does not mention collusion in his post. So where does Breitbart pull “collusion” out of all this? Don’t ask me to go there. This is not the real world. This is Breitbart Mentality at work.

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 165, unfortunately

This is directed to my friends who tell me whenever the matter comes up that the right to own firearms is what is keeping this country safe. It’s interesting to see how that’s working out:

Tulsa police on Tuesday released body camera footage showing the fatal officer-involved shooting of a man on Interstate 44 who shot two people at a south Tulsa strip mall earlier this month.

The video begins with Tulsa Police Department officers in a police cruiser responding to a dispatcher notifying them that Derrec Shaw, 25, had shot two people at separate locations after being observed “acting erratic and strange” while at a strip mall in the 4900 block of South Peoria Avenue on May 10.

ABC World News Tonight with David Muir had the story on Tuesday this week, featuring video from the police officer’s body camera. The sequence graphically depicts the tragic end of a short life. Derrec Shaw was able to obtain a handgun principally because to deny him that ability would result in the denial of a vast body of responsible ownership. In order to allow responsible owners to possess firearms we are making it possible for people like Derrec Shaw to have one.

So Derrec Shaw did not kill anybody. He was the only fatality that day, a victim of a mindset that is unwilling to admit responsible ownership might be no ownership. I invite readers to relate their own positive experiences due to gun ownership. When have you used a firearm to defend your life? I don’t mean when you used a gun to keep somebody from stealing your car. That would still count as an unnecessary death by firearm. If you have had no such personal experience, then relate an incident you are closely familiar with. Barring that, how about news items or police reports of self defense.

I will get the dialog going from my experience:

  • Close relative shot, not killed—1
  • Close relative shot, killed—1
  • Personal acquaintance shot, killed—3
  • Homicide personally witnessed—1 or more
  • Close relative who killed in self defense—1

Mine is not a good record. Maybe you have a better story to tell. Tell it. I will post it here.

  • I restrict these posts to stories involving handguns, and I only post one stuff that pops up in my email Even so, there are always a few stories that are upstaged by the main feature and never get reported. Here are some that did not make the cut this week:
  • 20 May: Mother kills daughter in Guilderland murder suicide | News Radio 810 & 103.1 WGY
  • 19 May: 3-year-old killed in accidental shooting in Kansas City, MO | The Kansas City Star
  • 18 May: Police: 7 shot, 3 with life-threatening wounds, at off-campus party near Indiana university
  • 17 May: 8-year-old finds gun at baseball game, accidentally shoots mother
    16 May: Autopsy: 4-year-old shot himself with unsecured weapon

Abusing Science

Number 24 of a series

Billboards in Chicago paid for by The Heartland Institute along the inbound Eisenhower Expressway in Maywood, Illinois. Photograph: The Heartland Institute

People can misuse science for a number of reasons, but the two that come to mind are:

  1. They are ignorant and do not understand the science in question.
  2. It is to their religious, political, or economic advantage to misrepresent scientific findings.

This appears to be a case of the latter:

A MAJOR COAL COMPANY WENT BUST. ITS BANKRUPTCY FILING SHOWS THAT IT WAS FUNDING CLIMATE CHANGE DENIALISM.

THE BANKRUPTCY OF one of the largest domestic coal producers in the country has revealed that the company maintains financial ties to many of the leading groups that have sowed doubt over the human causes of global warming.

The disclosures are from Cloud Peak Energy, a Wyoming-based coal mining corporation that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 10. The company had been battered by low coal prices, including in international markets cultivated by the firm.

The documents in the court docket show that the coal giant gave contributions to leading think tanks that have attacked the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change, as well as to several conservative advocacy groups that have attempted to undermine policies intended to shift the economy toward renewable energy. The documents do not include information on the size of the contributions, yet, taken as a whole, the list of groups Cloud Peak Energy helped fund are indicative of how the company prioritized pushing climate denialism. The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Regarding the Institute for Energy Research, Wikipedia has this to say:

The IER is the successor organization to the Institute for Humane Studies of Texas, an advocacy group established in 1984 by billionaire businessman and political donor Charles Koch. After failing to pay the Texas state franchise tax, IHST lost its charter in 1989, and was later rebranded as the Institute for Energy Research, or IER, under the presidency of Robert L. Bradley Jr., the former director of public policy analysis for Enron. IER began by distributing quarterly reports to a small but growing list of donors in the early 1990s and eventually expanded its publishing capabilities to include highly publicized studies. It was not until 2001 when Bradley secured funding to make IER a full-time organization. In 2007, IER was moved to Washington, D.C. where it transformed itself into an energy think tank producing research and analysis on global energy markets.

In 2009, an article in Mother Jones magazine said IER was among the most prominent organizations questioning the existence and extent of anthropogenic climate change.

ALEC we have seen before. Wikipedia has this entry:

The shooting of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 led to increased public attention on “Stand-your-ground” gun laws that ALEC had supported. Color of Change launched a new campaign in April to pressure ALEC corporate members to withdraw. More than sixty corporations and foundations, including Coca-ColaWendy’sKraft FoodsMcDonald’sAmazon.comGeneral ElectricAppleProcter & GambleWalmart, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the medical insurance group Blue Cross and Blue Shield dropped support of ALEC in the ensuing weeks or let their memberships lapse. Thirty-four legislative members also left ALEC.

ALEC responded by releasing a statement describing efforts by its critics as a “campaign launched by a coalition of extreme liberal activists committed to silencing anyone who disagrees with their agenda”. Doug Clopp of Common Cause credited ALEC Exposed for the successful campaign, saying that “for 40 years you couldn’t get the kind of accountability we’re seeing now because ALEC, its members, its legislators, its bills were secret.”

Former Visa Inc. lobbyist, Newt Gingrich aide, and GOPAC executive director, Lisa B. Nelson, succeeded Scheberle as CEO of ALEC in 2014.

In late 2014, a number of technology-oriented companies such as GoogleMicrosoftFacebookEbay, and Yahoo! announced that they were ending their ties to ALEC. Multiple companies cited environmental concerns as a point of contention with the organization.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt remarked that ALEC was “just literally lying” about recent global climate change.

If you have any doubt remaining, companies with an interest in opposing the science behind anthropogenic global warming are paying companies such as these to misrepresent the scientific argument. It’s well-funded abuse of science.

Quiz Question

Number 205 of a series

I’m late posting this week’s Quiz Question. Monday was a busy day. But here it is. I came across an item posted on the Internet—The Subtle Art of the Mathematical Conjecture. It has some interesting stuff, including proved and yet to be proved conjectures in mathematics. There is a discussion of Fermat’s Conjecture, and there is this:

Counterexamples can lie far ashore, like the one found by Noam Elkies, a mathematician at Harvard University, disproving Euler’s conjecture, a variation on Fermat’s conjecture that states that a fourth power can never be written as a sum of three other fourth powers. Who would have guessed that the first counterexample involved a number of 30 digits?*

The asterisk points to a note:

20,615,6734 = 2,682,4404 + 15,365,6394 + 18,796,7604.

Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this equation? Post your comments below.

Update and solution

Mike and Elmo got this one right. I had it wrong. I tried to check the math in my head and miscounted the multiplications. Shit happens.

Schlemiel-in-Chief

Number 35 in a series

A certain chief executive of the United States is seriously talking about running for the position next year, and since it is my hobby to twist the knife in this paper mache facade, I am bringing back a theme I have not used since last year. Here is more fun with our Schlemiel-in-Chief. Maybe all that will be needed this time out are a few screen shots from ABC World News Tonight with David Muir. The story is from the 8th of this month.

We know The Donald makes his way through the world by telling a stream of lies, but sometimes he tells the absolute truth.

I congratulate myself for my mastery of the English language, but in the above case I can think of no better way to put it. The man is truly a genius. Most spectacularly, his genius appears to be in the art of losing money. He is a true LOSER.

 

There is more.

Some feel. Some gut.

At this point my powers of expression fail me. There is no way I can compete with this.

I don’t know about you, but I feel good about having a financial genius in charge of our nation’s economy. And again my powers of expression fail me.

Bad Joke of the Week

One of a series

Saturday turned rainy, so Tony decided to cancel his plans to go fishing, spending the day doing some stuff around the house. By ten at night he decided to call it a day and turned in. About an hour later the phone rang.

Tony rolled over, picked up the receiver and listened for a few seconds. Then he spoke into the phone. “How would I know? Why don’t you call the Coast Guard?” Then he slammed down the receiver.

“Who was that?” his wife asked.

“He didn’t say,” Tony responded.

“What did he want,” his wife asked.

“He wanted to know if the coast was clear.”

Your Friend The Handgun

Number 164, unfortunately

The above was posted by a Facebook friend. There is a discussion over whether the ready availability of guns will make us safer. For example:

Two men shot in Soho after late-night fight

A gunman blasted two men after a fight in front of a Soho nightclub Thursday morning, police said.

The suspect opened fire at about 1:40 a.m. in front of SOB’s music venue on Varick Street near Houston Street, striking a 26-year-old in his chest and abdomen and a 29-year-old in his upper thigh, cops said.

The victims were rushed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition, police said. They’re both expected to survive.

A bar fight turning into a shootout? Who would have thought it?

This is one of several I received in the past week. Here are two more.

  • 9 May: Police Investigating After Young Girl Shot In SE OKC – News 9
  • 9 May: Concealed carry holder fatally shoots himself during struggle over gun

Stay safe out their, friends, and keep ’em loaded.