Saturday, December 20, 2014

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headline of the Week

It's like The Most Interesting Man in the World goes MacGyver

"Arctic explorer Peter Freuchen formed a chisel out of his own frozen feces to free himself from an avalanche" - Historical Pics


The Golden Age of Homeland Security: Groucho Marx's Civil Defense PSA

Fifty years before we had the Department of Homeland Security, we had a Federal Civil Defense Agency that was charged with promoting measures to protect the civilian population in the event of an attack on the United States.

No one under 60 would remember this, but we used to have bomb shelters in schools and other public buildings - sometimes in backyards - and did duck and cover drills between math and English classes. Ah, wonderful memories!

And so, back in the '50s, major entertainment figures such as Bob Hope, Art Linkletter (who maybe needs an intro today), and Groucho Marx made public service announcements about what you should do in the event an atomic bomb explodes in your town.

Civil Defense strategy in the 1950s was heavy on self-help and education about atomic hazards with the intention of controlling panic. As Groucho told us in 1953, "nobody else will help you" in the event of war but, nevertheless, your chances of surviving an atomic attack are excellent. Both statements were true.

Today, that seems like a remarkable message to get from your government. Nobody else will help you, so you'll have to be prepared to help yourself and your family. To see how much stress the government used to place on self-help listen to this 1961 civil defense message from President Kennedy in which he states that "individual preparedness, which is beyond the providence of government, is essential to an effective civil defense." I can't imagine DHS saying that anything is beyond the providence of government. 

Unlike today, back then the government wanted to reduce public fear about the - then highly probable - threat of an attack, and thought the best way to do so was with education about the threat and the promotion of self-reliance.They even published handy guides full of practical ideas that were even better than the much-ridiculed duct tape and plastic sheeting recommendation DHS put out in 2003.

Self-help booklet (1951), read it here

To quote Yakov Smirnoff, "what a country!"

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Great Man-O-Vations

What a wonderful time it is to be alive! Free wi-fi almost everywhere, practically a million movies to stream on Netflix, and now, candles that smell like beer.

Beer! The cause, and the cure, of all life's misfortunes. (Homer Simpson)

Actually, these candles smell more like you spilled beer somewhere and didn't clean it up, which I guess would get annoying after a while, but I had fun amusing myself with this great product tonight while my wife shopped at the mall.

If they made one that smelled like stale pizza, and another one like unwashed socks, you could get an instant dormitory ambiance going on in your home. If you wanted that.   

After I'd sniffed my fill of beer, this candle cleansed the palate nicely:


Ahhhh, fresh cut grass!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Facing the Heavy Night After Taliban's Attack on Pakistan Army Public School

Coffins delivered to a Peshawar hospital

Perhaps the most profound word on today's atrocity in Peshawar was had by the Taliban's spokesman when he rationalized the massacre of children from the families of Pakistan's Army. "We are facing such heavy nights in routine," he said, referring to the thousands of casualties inflicted by the Army on extremists in Waziristan. "Today, you must face the heavy night."

It's just that simple. Inflicting suffering on the enemy is, by itself, a victory for the Pakistani Taliban.

The BBC's story was the best I saw, Peshawar school attack leaves 141 dead:
This brutal attack may well be a watershed for a country long accused by the world of treating terrorists as strategic assets.

Pakistan's policy-makers struggling to come to grips with various shades of militants have often cited a "lack of consensus" and "large pockets of sympathy" for religious militants as a major stumbling-block.

That is probably why, when army chief Gen Raheel Sharif launched what he called an indiscriminate operation earlier in the year against militant groups in Pakistan's lawless tribal belt, the political response was lukewarm at best.

We will get them, was his message, be they Pakistani Taliban, Punjabi Taliban, al-Qaeda and affiliates, or most importantly, the dreaded Haqqani network. But the country's political leadership chose to remain largely silent. This is very likely to change now.

-- snip --

Still, even by Pakistan and the Taliban's gruesome standards, Tuesday's attack may be the most abominable yet.

-- snip --

And for the past few months, the Pakistani military has been conducting a ground offensive aimed at clearing out militants. The campaign has displaced tens of thousands of people.

The military offensive in the region has spurred deadly retaliations.

Khurrassani, the Pakistan Taliban spokesman, told CNN that the latest attack was revenge for the killing of hundreds of innocent tribesmen during repeated army operations in provinces including South Waziristan, North Waziristan and the Khyber Agency.

The TTP spokesman challenged that ordinary citizens were targeted, saying that five army vehicles are routinely stationed at the school.

"We are facing such heavy nights in routine," Khurrassani said, rationalizing the siege shortly before it ended. "Today, you must face the heavy night."

According to news reports, the Pakistan Army has killed almost 2,000 militants in North Waziristan in a massive offensive that began in June. If the Pakistani political response to that anti-Taliban offensive had been lukewarm or ambivalent before, surely that will change after today's enormous provocation.

Today's attack could very well create a multi-generational war that will continue until the Pakistan Army has eradicated not just their enemy but his entire bloodline.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Most Eyebrow-Raising Headlne of the Week

"Mexican pilot fired after letting attractive singer fly plane while it was full of passengers" - Fox News Latino

That's Pretty Frugal, Eh?

Canada's Foreign Affairs Security Spending

Those must be some parsimonious fellows, up north there. A government that chooses to not spend every dollar appropriated, but instead pays down the budget deficit and cuts taxes? And to take some of that savings out of overseas security programs, of all things? Wow. See the details here.

Ottawa must be a very long way from Washington DC, where we don't even have a government budget, but instead our politicians are passing, in a two day period, a 1,600-page spending bill that crams $1.1 trillion into eleven separate appropriations and uncounted - literally uncounted, since no one saw that monstrosity of a bill until the day before yesterday - goodies and give-aways to special interests.

I can't speak to the wisdom of taking savings out of their overseas security programs, however, I definitely admire the Canadian government's style of fiscal management.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Another Obama Relative Fights Deportation to Kenya

If Barrack Obama had a mugshot, it might look like this

First it was his Kenyan Aunt Zeituni appealing her deportation from the United States, and then it was his Kenyan Uncle Omar, and now it's his Kenyan - what? second cousin? maybe something else? - George Ware Obama.

According to yesterday's Daily Caller (here) George W. Obama appealed an order of removal before the Board of Immigration Appeals in Arlington, Virginia, on November 6 and was denied.

Quoting George W's immigration attorney, The Daily Caller says he is pursuing a request for asylum based on his alleged fear of becoming a target for terrorist retaliation against his Presidential cousin - or something - if he is sent back home. That isn't going well for him, in part because "Obama has what are called 'negative equities' on his record, including DUIs and other crimes."

A few minutes of googling turned up three mugshots for George W., all taken in different Georgia jurisdictions in the Atlanta metro area, one for driving while intoxicated in Gwinnett County, another DUI plus driving with a suspended or revoked license in Decatur, and one for battery in Cobb County.

Maybe he'll keep on appealing until he hits the jackpot and gets to stay, just like the Massachusetts branch of his extended family did. Until then, George W. resides in the Rappahannoch Regional Facility of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.