BBC Navel Gazing by John Gray

1400 meandering words about Margaret Thatcher, free markets, politics, Russia, Francis Fukuyama and it all boils down to this BGO [Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious]:

“…the fact that intractable conflict will continue to shape our lives in future as it has done in the past.”

via BBC News – A Point of View: Does anybody ever ‘think the unthinkable’?.


Daeshi, Pringles, Red Bull, and iPhones

In Raqqa, a vendor who asks to be identified as Qasim says a can of Red Bull costs around 250 Syrian lira (about $1.50), while in Deir Ezzor, a tube of Pringles cost about $5.50. Both are well above the average $3 per day that most Syrians in the area now live on.
Local businessmen buy the crisps and non-alcoholic beer from regime-held areas, and add an extra 10 per cent to the price to cover the bribes at army checkpoints. Energy drinks and chocolates are brought over the border from Turkey.
Locals say Isis foreign fighters have a basic salary of at least $215 dollars a month – twice the average income civilians can hope to earn. On top of that are shares of war loot, a $3 daily food stipend, and frequent bonuses.

FLOTUS would never approve of this diet.  Shame on them.

via Isis fighters crave snacks and gadgets of the west they disdain –

Virginia Bill Introduced to Decriminalize Possession

A bill that would decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana has been introduced by state Sen. Adam P. Ebbin, D-Alexandria, for the coming General Assembly session.
The effort comes on the heels of legalization in two other states. Ebbin said there have been unsuccessful bills introduced in the Virginia House of Delegates in the past, but that this is the first he is aware of coming from the Senate.
“It would decriminalize simple possession of an ounce or less, but not decriminalize it to the extent done recently in Colorado and Washington state,” he said.
“I had requests to do it for a number of years, and I decided this year to go ahead,” Ebbin said. “There’s about 25 million Americans who smoked marijuana in the past year, and our public policy should start to reflect reality and not deny it.”

A good first step.

via Bill introduced to legalize small amounts of marijuana – Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Politics.

College Children Dreck

via The Microaggression Farce by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal Autumn 2014.

Dear Mommy and Daddy,

How are you? I am fine.

I am learned lots of knew stuff here in college. Scarey dreams have been triggered alot by teacher’s microagressions.  My pod-mate friend who is from Denver has brownies that make me feel better but they are spensive

Send me more money from your undeserved heteropatriarchal capitalist retirement accounts so I can get more brownies.

Pet my companion animal Fluffy for me, alot.


Val Rust’s dissertation-prep class had devolved into a highly charged arena of competing victim ideologies, impenetrable to anyone outside academia. For example: Were white feminists who use “standpoint theory”—a feminist critique of allegedly male-centered epistemology—illegitimately appropriating the “testimonial” genre used by Chicana feminists to narrate their stories of oppression? Rust took little part in these “methodological” disputes—if one can describe “Chicana testimonials” as a scholarly “method”—but let the more theoretically up-to-date students hash it out among themselves. Other debates centered on the political implications of punctuation. Rust had changed a student’s capitalization of the word “indigenous” in her dissertation proposal to the lowercase, thus allegedly showing disrespect for the student’s ideological point of view. Tensions arose over Rust’s insistence that students use the more academic Chicago Manual of Style for citation format; some students felt that the less formal American Psychological Association conventions better reflected their political commitments. During one of these heated discussions, Rust reached over and patted the arm of the class’s most vociferous critical race–theory advocate to try to calm him down—a gesture typical of the physically demonstrative Rust, who is prone to hugs. The student, Kenjus Watson, dramatically jerked his arm away, as a burst of nervous energy coursed through the room.

Only on a college campus can such dreck be written and said, Very Earnest, with a straight face.

Click forth and read all [and sigh]:

via The Microaggression Farce by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal Autumn 2014.

Breaking News 1965 Edition: Johnson to personally sign off on any airstrikes

Update: For Obama and the Pentagon, an uneasy relationship 

On a trip to Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was stunned to find a telephone line at the military’s special operations headquarters that linked directly back to a top White House national security official.
“I had them tear it out while I was standing there,” Gates said earlier this month as he recounted his discovery. “I told the commanders, `If you get a call from the White House, you tell them to go to hell and call me.'”
To Gates, the phone in Kabul came to symbolize Obama’s efforts to micromanage the Pentagon and centralize decision-making in the White House. That criticism later would be echoed publicly and pointedly by Gates’ successor, Leon Panetta.

…the real issue rested with the president himself.
When a president wants highly centralized control in the White House at the degree of micromanagement that I’m describing, that’s not bureaucratic, that’s political,” he said

Update: US advisers stay out of harm’s way in Iraq

U.S. military officials say the techniques include low-tech workarounds, such as Iraqi commanders using cellphones to request airstrikes.The requests are screened at a joint operations center far from the combat, where a team of American officials quickly verifies the information provided by the Iraqis before approving strikes. One center is in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish region, and one is in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
“This process usually runs its course in a matter of minutes, and if it takes longer it’s because the situation requires it,” Sholtis said in an e-mail. “It may not be an ideal system, but so far it has been pretty effective.”

There are about 1,400 U.S. troops in Iraq now, and Obama approved sending up to 1,500 more. Some are defending U.S. facilities and others will help train and advise Iraq’s armed forces.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said he does not see a need for U.S. advisers to accompany Iraqi forces now, but it may become necessary in the future, particularly when Iraqi forces launch an offensive to retake territory captured by the Islamic State.

Update: Pentagon lashes out at ISIS war “micromanagement” at WH

Top military leaders in the Pentagon and in the field are growing increasingly frustrated by the tight constraints the White House has placed on the plans to fight ISIS and train a new Syrian rebel army.

“We are getting a lot of micromanagement from the White House. Basic decisions that should take hours are taking days sometimes,” one senior defense official told The Daily Beast.


Lyndon Johnson/Obama faced many of the same problems in Vietnam that Harry Truman faced in Korea.Johnson’s principal problems were to fight the war successfully without widening the conflict to include intervention by the major Communist powers. This problem would color nearly every decision Johnson made about the war, would force him (from his point of view) to take personal command of the air war in North Vietnam, and would frustrate the military leadership, just as they had been frustrated during the Korean War.


President Johnson/Obama has asked to personally sign off on all airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets in Syria, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Obama has reportedly set far more stringent requirements for bombing targets in that country than Iraq, where U.S. warplanes have already conducted over 160 strikes against targets associated with the terrorist group.

Update:Napolitano–Is the White House planning to run this war directly as LBJ did in Vietnam?

In another deceptive move, Obama announced on Monday that the operation against ISIS, whether authorized by Congress or not, will be directed by retired Marine Corps General John Allen. This is a novel use of government assets, as Allen is no longer a part of the Pentagon and thus not subject to the military chain of command. Apparently, the president does not trust his military advisers, whose advice he has repeatedly rejected, to run his war. Is the White House planning to run this war directly as LBJ did in Vietnam? Is the State Department? How can a civilian who is not the president command military troops?

Report: Obama to personally sign off on any Syria airstrikes | TheHill.

Update: Obama Might Send Armed Soldiers, On the Ground, to Help Fight ISIS—But Don’t Worry, They Won’t Be ‘Ground Troops’

“They might only be directing air strikes.”   Hmmm, who does this task for the Air Force: Combat Control specialist.  I suppose President Jarret 0 (et. al.) can easily make the Air Force change reality terminology, perhaps, ‘Long Term Anti-Terrorist Gravity Assisted Prosecution specialist’

Yeahhhh…they don’t look like ground troops to me:

And JTACs certainly don’t get involved in major ground conflicts.

Moreauville La. Council: Your Pet Dog Looks Scarey – We’re Going To Kill It

A family is doing everything it can to get its village to overturn a ban that would force them to get rid of their family dog.
Last month, the village passed an ordinance that states if residents own a pit bull or Rottweiler, they must get rid of it by December 1 or the dogs will be taken for “disposition,” according to KALB.

Disposition = Euthanized

I will guarantee that more people are injured by automobiles than dogs in Moreauville, but they are not taking away peoples cars.

via Family set to lose pit bull because of city ban |

Making The Police Less Powerful

In addition to the worrying trend of police militarization, many areas of the country have police forces that seem fairly unaccountable for excessive violence or other problems. In Philadelphia, an inquiry was recently completed on 26 cases since 2008 where police officers were fired from charges ranging from domestic violence, to retail theft, to excessive force, to on duty intoxication. Shockingly, the Police Advisory Committee undertaking the investigation found that so far 19 of these fired officers have been reinstated. Why does this occur? The committee blamed the arbitration process.

via Making The Police Less Powerful – Forbes.

Dynomak Fusion Reactors

What does “cost competitive” mean? Well, relative to prior fusion projections, a Dynomak facility could be built for about a tenth the cost of competing fusion reactor designs and produce up to five times as much power. This lets it catch up to the price-per-watt of coal, though only at the gigawatt scale; a 1GW Dynomak reactor might cost $2.7 billion, to a modern average of $2.8 billion for comparable coal plants. It’s all theoretical of course — this team has presented a major improvement to reactor design, but it will be up to larger, better funded research teams to actually make use of it.

via The new dynomak fusion reactor design could make fusion power cheaper than coal | ExtremeTech.

Too Smart for Police Work?

His problem? He scored too high on the IQ proxy test and was thus excluded from consideration.
Jordan, a 49-year-old college graduate, took the exam in 1996 and scored 33 points, the equivalent of an IQ of 125. But New London police interviewed only candidates who scored 20 to 27, on the theory that those who scored too high could get bored with police work and leave soon after undergoing costly training.
Most Cops Just Above Normal The average score nationally for police officers is 21 to 22, the equivalent of an IQ of 104, or just a little above average.

via Court OKs Barring Smart People From Becoming Cops (Really) – Hit & Run :

Good Ideals – Obese Odds

Pope Francis urged Muslim leaders to condemn the “barbaric violence” being committed in Islam’s name against religious minorities in Iraq and Syria as he arrived in neighboring Turkey Friday for a delicate visit aimed at improving interfaith ties.
Francis sought to offer a balanced message as he met with Turkish political and religious officials at the start of his second trip to the Middle East this year. He reaffirmed that military force was justified to halt the Islamic State group’s advance, and called for greater dialogue between Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths to end fundamentalism.

Pope urges more Muslim opposition to IS in Turkey

Oil plunge a panacea for much of world economy

A renewed plunge in oil prices is a worrying sign of weakness in the global economy that could shake governments dependent on oil revenues. Yet it is also a bonus for consumers as prices fall at the pump, giving individuals more spending money and lowering costs for many businesses.
The latest slide was triggered by OPEC’s decision this week to leave its production target at 30 million barrels a day. Member nations of the cartel are worried they’ll lose market share if they lower production.
Partly because of the shale oil boom in the U.S., the world is awash in oil but demand from major economies is weak – so prices are falling.
Brent crude, an international benchmark, was at $72.50 a barrel on Friday, down nearly 30 percent in the past three months and at its lowest in four years. U.S. crude oil slid 6.2 percent to near $69 a barrel on Friday and is down 27 percent over three months.


Oil plunge a panacea for much of world economy

Uber, Privacy Not. Driving in the scientology zone

Update: Uber’s Android app caught reporting data back without permission

Security researcher GironSec has pulled Uber’s Android app apart and discovered that it’s sending a huge amount of personal data back to base – including your call logs, what apps you’ve got installed, whether your phone is vulnerable to certain malware, whether your phone is rooted, and your SMS and MMS logs, which it explicitly doesn’t have permission to do. It’s the latest in a series of big-time missteps for a company whose core business model is, frankly, illegal in most of its markets as well.

Taxi-busting ride share app Uber might have an operating model that suits customers better than traditional, regulated taxi services – but the company’s aggressively disruptive (and frequently illegal) business practices don’t seem to stop at harming the taxi industry.


The controversy stemmed from remarks by Uber Senior Vice President Emil Michael on Friday night as he spoke of his desire to spend $1 million to dig up information on “your personal lives, your families,” referring to journalists who write critically about the company, according to a report published Monday night by Buzzfeed. The same story said a different Uber executive once had examined the private travel records of a Buzzfeed reporter during an e-mail exchange about an article without seeking permission to access the data.

What was ol’ Elron Hubbards mode of operation for critics:

Noisy investigations are used by the Church of Scientology to intimidate, harass, and attack their enemies. The Church used to openly label such people as Fair Game. The goal of a noisy investigation may not be to find out anything, but to harass the person being investigated. The procedure is to contact friends, neighbours, co-workers, etc. and inform them that they are investigating crimes by the target person.[1]

via Uber executive stirs up privacy controversy – The Washington Post.

Want to Fly A Hobby Drone? Get A Medical Exam and Open Your Wallet, More

The new proposed rules, expected before the end of the year according to the Wall Street Journal, will apply to drones under 55 pounds, limit flights to daytime hours, under 400 feet, and within the pilot’s line of sight. They would also require all drone operators to acquire a pilot’s license from the FAA. Not a special, drone-focused license, but the kind you need to actually get in a plane and fly it.

That makes the onerous process of getting a license—including dozens of hours of work with an expensive flight instructor, a medical examination, and lots of classroom time—seem less necessary when the only things you might hit are cows and stalks of corn.

via Rural Pilots Won’t Be Happy About the FAA’s New Drone Rules | WIRED.

Iowahawk Continues to be Truly Prescient

Update: AQAP rejects Islamic State’s ‘caliphate,’ blasts group for sowing dissent among jihadists

[Whoa! Twitterstormed]


Al Jazeera has published a letter that was purportedly written by Ayman al Zawahiri to the heads of al Qaeda’s franchises in Iraq and Syria. Two senior US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal say the letter is genuine.

In the letter, dated May 23, Zawahiri rules on a dispute between the emirs of al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) and the Al Nusrah Front in Syria. The disagreement has reportedly caused problems for al Qaeda’s operations since it first became public in early April.

Analysis: Zawahiri’s letter to al Qaeda branches in Syria, Iraq – The Long War Journal.

And now the ‘Satire’:  I Hate My Boss

From: A. al-Zawahiri
To: All Associates
Subject: Mandatory Weekend Retreat

Oh fucking terrific. I popped my head up over my cubicle to see if Khalid had read it yet, and he just sorta looks up at me and rolls his one good eye. …

“Brothers, at the end of the day, to break through the strategic gap, we have to level-set all associates to tee-up a flat, service-focused organizational paradigm with benchmarks for long range results.”

1. Develop Skill-Set Synergies For Expelling Crusaders From Mesopotamia
2. Achieve Buy-In For Scalable ‘Bleeding Edge’ Regional Amirate Platform
3. Implement Adaptive ‘Win-Win’ Map To Break Down Intra-Regional Jihad Silos
4. Champion Mission-Critical Processes For Dis-Implementing Zionist Pigs
5. Pareto-ize Alpha Office for Stakeholder-Focused Global Sharia Capabilities

Math Geeks: A Touch of Euler

Now, maybe you’ve never thought of math equations as “beautiful,” but look at that result: It combines the five most fundamental numbers in math—0, 1, e, i, and π—in a relation of irreducible simplicity. (Even more astonishing if you slog through the proof, which involves infinite sums, factorials, and fractions nested within fractions within fractions like matryoshka dolls.) And remember, e and π are infinitely long decimals with seemingly nothing in common; they’re the ultimate jigsaw puzzle pieces. Yet they fit together perfectly—not to a few places, or a hundred, or a million, but all the way to forever.

Vlad Pushes His Reset Button Again (con’d) Crimea Fighter Edition

Russia continues to encircle Ukraine with air power: according to ITAR TASS news agency, Belbek airbase, in Crimea, was reinforced with ten upgraded Su-27SM and four Su-30 fourth-generation fighter jets.

The aircraft, which flew to the Belbek from southern Russia’s Krasnodar territory on Nov. 26, will serve with the 62nd Fighter Regiment of the 27th Combined Air Division of the Russian Air Force.

Belbek, the main airfield of the peninsula annexed by Moscow earlier this year, will operate a total of 24 warplanes and six training combat aircraft. First training sorties will be launched on Dec. 1.

The move comes few days after Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, reported that the Russian Federation is amassing forces, including radar stations and Mig-31 Foxhound combat planes, at the eastern border with Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists are fighting against Kiev regular forces.

via The Aviationist » Russia is basing 14 combat planes, including modernized Su-27s and Su-30s, to Crimea.

ATF creates crime to create arrests….. another day, another dollar…yawn

Update: WTF ATF: The ATF’s Fake Retail Stores, Bad Behavior… And Why It Only Came Out Because They Failed To Pay Rent

This past week, on This American Life, the first 20 minutes or so are the incredible story of just how screwed up the ATF continues to be (the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). Much of this has been reported on over the past year and a half by reporters in Milwaukee (and investigated by Congress), but it’s absolutely worth listening to the details — which you can do over on the This American Life page  The story is all kinds of stunning, including the insane fact that most of the details came out, and the reporters only began their investigation, because some undercover ATF agents in Milwaukee had trashed the property they were renting, and refused to pay the rent or damages to the landlord — even threatening the landlord, claiming he was harassing federal agents by asking for the rent:

John Diedrich: I get a call. And it was from a landlord, a guy named Dave Salkin. And Dave Salkin owns this place that he, unbeknownst to him, rented to the ATF. Didn’t know who they were, they were undercover agents. And they had trashed his place, and they were behind on rent. They had threatened him. And I said, where are you, I’m coming right now.

Ira Glass: While they were undercover, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives basically ripped up his place. Salkin said at the time that they owed $15,000 in damages and back rent. Later he said it was more. When he tried to collect, they didn’t pay up. In fact, an ATF lawyer warned him that if he kept asking for the money, it could be seen as harassing federal agents.


The ATF’s M.O. was to open some sort of store, be it a pawn shop or a tattoo parlor, in a poor neighborhood and then try to bait the locals into committing drug or gun crimes. If some of those locals were handicapped, hey — that just makes reaching the monthly quota of guilty pleas and convictions easier.


via On second thought, maybe Fast & Furious isn’t the most egregious ATF operation of the last 10 years « Hot Air.

Julie Roginsky: I’m thankful our country is still a refuge and the land of opportunity

But take a moment, even as dissatisfaction with Washington crescendos, to consider this: which other nation on earth would allow penniless refugees, with nothing tangible to offer, unimpeded access to its national resources? Which other nation would ask its taxpayers to invest in immigrants without language skills or financial resources, with the tenuous hope that one day the taxpayers would earn a return on their investment?

Millions of people around the world don’t view the United States as dismally as we have learned to view ourselves. Despite our many challenges, this is still a nation to which immigrants flock because they want the United States to invest in their aspirations. Generation after generation has asked for that investment and time and again, that investment has paid off for them individually and for our nation as a whole.

via I’m thankful our country is still a refuge and the land of opportunity | Fox News.