Honestly, the world would be much better off if the lib arts types took a more engineering approach to the world. In engineering, there might not always be a “right” answer, but there are almost always very definitely wrong answers. And sometimes, there *are* stupid questions. Consider:

Should we call ISIS ‘evil’?

Ummm… how is this even a concern?

The author of the piece, one James Dawes, director of the Program in Human Rights at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, seems to be one of those who ulcerates publicly for a living. Consider:

There is only one good reason to denounce a group as evil — because you plan to injure them, and calling them evil makes it psychologically easier to do so.

Errrrmmm… no. The world is *full* of evil people. Check out the nearest supermax or the nightly news. Are we planning on injuring them all? Nope. For example, I have precisely zero interest in injuring Hitler, what with him being dead and all, yet I can recognize that he was evil. Speaking of which…

The Wall Street Journal editorialized that this evil ideology will only be stopped when “enough of its fanatics have been killed.” But if we’ve learned anything as a nation since our “shock and awe” campaign in Iraq, it is this: While invasions and bombing can be effective in the short term, they are not durable solutions to terror-based violence.

You know, how was the Nazi regime ended? By dropping vast numbers of bombs and pissed-off Russians on them, that’s how. And we called the Nazis evil, then and now.

What this professional yammerer seems to not be able to grasp is that recognizing that someone is evil and calling them that does *not* preclude you from attempting to understand their motivations. What calling them evil *does* do is force you to not simply shrug off what they’re doing.

That’s the problem between STEM thinking and lib arts thinking, I think. Engineers and scientists want to find the answer. Here it is, quantified, in black and white with the data to back it up. The lib arts seem to favor a squishy ‘no wrong answer” worldview. That’s what makes STEM harder: there *is* a wrong answer. An infinite number of them, in fact.

“I’ve contracted ebola. Should I visit the western doctor, or the acupuncturist, or the chiropractor, or the faith healer, or the shaman?”

“Someone is shooting at me. Should I call the cops, or duck, or run away, or shoot back, or run towards them screaming wildly, or hold up a white flag and try to engage them in philosophical debate, or just stand up and turn the other cheek, or purple monkey dishwasher?”

“We seem to have an energy shortage. Should we build new advanced nuclear powerplants? Or shut down the ones we have? Or encourage conservation while also encouraging mass immigration?”

Some answers *may* be wrong. Some answers *are* wrong.

Fortunately, there may be another possible way to deal with ISIS than by sending in our own troops. It is summed up in this Fark.com headline from today:

Boko Harum declares northern Nigeria as the Islamic Caliphate, just like ISIS has done in Syria and Iraq, and since Caliphates are kinda like Highlanders in that there can be only one, you know what that means: CALIPHATE FIGHT

Or, potentially… yikes.

‘Widespread methane leakage’ from ocean floor off US coast


Previous surveys along the Atlantic seaboard have shown only three seep areas beyond the edge of the US continental shelf.

In an area between North Carolina and Massachusetts, they have now found at least 570 seeps at varying depths between 50m and 1,700m.


Well, this sucks. But it was pretty much bound to happen eventually… a three-engine Grasshopper blew itself to flinders today.

SpaceX Test Flight Detonated After ‘Anomaly’ Over Texas Town


With the recent cat illnesses, serious dropoff in business and increase in vet bills, stress levels hereabouts have been at near-historic levels. But hey, at least I haven’t yet contracted a life threatening case of bronchitis in 2014 (that’s me, always looking on the bright side). One of the consequences of stress is a decrease in lesser creativity… I might still be able to creatively think myself out of some emergency situation, but art? Feh. Gone.

Fortunately, things are starting to crawl back towards the normal only-slightly-apocalyptic level of DOOM stress, and creativity is starting to slooowly return. So, some updates:

Continue reading »

This may be a few years old, but it’s still a good takedown of the utter bilge – and, ultimately, utterly reprehensible and vile – pseudoscientific nonsense called “acupuncture.”

Read the whole four parts here:



After the recent excitement down in Ferguson, MO, where the twin joys of “Lootie McRioterson” and “Officer Powermad” met up to do a little dance, I thought it was time to sit back, relax, and think about all the good that a government can do when it has power and the desire to improve peoples natures.

The US Once Poisoned Alcohol Supplies to Scare People Away From Drinking

Short form: during Prohibition, the FedGuv thought it’s be a smashing idea to denature alcohol with stuff that wasn’t just nasty tasting, but downright toxic. The idea: since booze was illegal, criminals were stealing denatured alcohol (alcohol for industrial use, “denatured” by adding other substances to it that made it nasty to drink) and re-naturing it to sell to drinkers… so, why not denature the booze with something *truly* awful, so the drinkers wouldn’t take the risk? After the first 100 or so deaths, the press noticed and the story went wide; but people being people, they didn’t want to stop drinking their booze. And the government didn’t think that poisoning them was a bad idea, so they kept doing it. Death toll: around 10,000. Many more sickened and blinded.

*Maybe* killing off a few people drinking illegal hootch seemed like a good idea at the time, but keeping the process going after the death toll was hitting the *thousands* seems a bit excessive. One would hope that these lessons would prevent the government from doing something similar today… after all, everybody knows that smoking kills (second hand smoke alone has killed, what, forty or fifty *trillion* babies just in the past five years, plus or minus), and yet smokers continue to puff away.

Another fine story to keep in mind when contemplating the wisdom of arming the po-po with weapons systems adequate to take on Imperial Clonetroopers, or giving them the reigns to the health care system as a whole.

Since I’m not there, and since the internet is afire with posts and tweets and photos and vids and such, I have little to add on the topic that is of any value. Really only two points I’d like to raise:

1) On the subject of militarized police vs. rioters/looters:

“Can’t they both lose?”

2) It’s from a few years ago, but the basic lesson stays the same:

more government

It’s interesting that the people screaming the loudest about police brutality/overreaction/etc. in Ferguson seem to be the same who scream the loudest that Tea Partiers (or anyone else who wants smaller government) are racist.

Well, if you want big government, you’ll get big policing to go with it.

An often-made comment is that the military is always preparing to fight the *last* war. The point is that wars of the future tend to be unlike those of the past, and unless you keep up with what’s going on, you’ll be surprised by and unprepared for future events. Well, the Pentagon has revealed that, once again, they are not preparing for the future.

No Plans for Canada Invasion, Pentagon Leader Says

The US Army will once again be caught flat-footed, this time by the hordes of Snow Jihadis sweeping across the border shouting “Allahu ackbar, eh!”

So, Buttons seems to be feeling much better. After  much stressing out and meds and x-rays and blood tests and such, he’s out of the woods. But then Speedbump decided to get in on the action. Yesterday while visiting the vet to settle up Buttons’ bill i described some recent behavioral oddities with Speedbump; they counseled to get him in *fast.* So today he was taken to the vet and diagnosed with a really bad urinary tract infection.

FYI: If you have a cat, more specifically a male cat, and it starts complaining… that’s a sign. And if that cat spends a *lot* of time at the litter box digging and digging and digging and digging and digging and digging and digging and digging but producing little to nothing… that’s a *big* sign.

Fortunately, this seems an easy fix. Antibiotics and other meds, and he should be good to go. Still, it was a bad day for Speedbump. Not only was he undoubtedly in pain, but he also got taken someplace with a bunch of strangers, not his favorite thing. Worse, while there a litter of puppies (“golden doodles,” which I’m informed are A Thing) was getting a round of vaccination shots, something they did not like and were terribly vocal about. As a consequence, Speedbump was *really* not happy to be there.


I think I’ve found my newest “Sad Cat wonders why you don’t subscribe to APR’s Patreon” photo…

The last two days at the vet have cost more than I’ve gotten from Patreon in the last two *months.* Where’s my ObamaCatCare???


So, CNN teleprompter-reader Don Lemon goes on another CNN talking heads program to talk about the riots in Ferguson, Missouri (short form: cop shoots black guy [details as yet unclear], so local community decides to burn the place to the ground), where he says this:

“This is about the treatment of men of color in our society… They are treated differently whether it be law enforcement, whether it be at work, whether it be at a grocery store, whether it be on the street”

This is true. But you know what doesn’t help that situation? Rioting and looting.

Similarly: if you are in a non-state region that has repeatedly fought its more organized neighbor, and lost badly every time, and as a result has been surrounded and put under careful watch… you know what doesn’t help? Shooting thousands of crappy rockets at your neighbor.

“I demand you treat me with respect, and to prove my seriousness, here’s a self-destructive temper tantrum.”

And you know what’s not going to help even more? Publicly suggesting that you rob and murder a whole lot of folks who were in no way involved:

‘Loot … and rob them, not your own’; Twitter users advise black people to loot white neighborhoods

One wonders if it would be considered a hate crime for a white guy to suggest going into black neighborhoods and causing death and destruction. I would think that it would be.

And if the rioters, who look like absolute *morons* when they tear up their own neighborhoods, were to decide to head into the neighborhoods of “others?” What, exactly, do these geniuses think would be the great benefit here? At best, those cities would experience the economic “benefits” of white flight. People who come into your neighborhood to cause a ruckus do *not* earn your respect or sympathy, only your contempt… and quite often a bullet. If you knew that hundreds of people from a few blocks over might very well just decide to come and burn your home or business down, would you stick around? Would it inspire most anybody to treat those people better?

And you know… sometimes when you decide to go tear up someone elses stuff, that someone else might have something to say about it.

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