In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment for a Novelist

It has been a few days since I posted about public school teacher and (apparently craptacular) amateur sci-fi author Patrick McLaw getting arrested and disappeared for writing an (apparently craptacular) sci-fi novel. And there doesn’t really seem to be any news since then. And that alone is news. If there was a valid case against this guy, you’d think the local police/prosecutors would be touting their case. Instead… nothing.

 

There’s either a *lot* missing from this story, or something *really* wrong is going on here…

Cambridge Mace’s Lane Middle School Teacher on Administrative Leave

In short: a middle school teacher wrote and self-published two sci-fi books, set around 900 years in the future. The first one involves a school shooting that kills a whole bunch of people (the Amazon description is HERE). And at least as the article describes it, the fact that he wrote these books was enough for the Maryland police to swoop in, scoop him up, *disappear* him, sign him up for a psych evaluation and ransack his home looking for guns & bombs (of which they apparently found none).

From the Amazon description, the writing seems… well, “not so good.” But if you can get tossed just for writing crappy fiction at the age of about 20, I shudder to imagine what the future holds.

Yikes:

He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.

OK, this ain’t a fashion blog. For the most part… really, who gives a damn? Does it even matter if your socks match? I don’t see what practical difference it makes. Still… words mean things, and when companies like The Gap decide to just redefine words willy-nilly, it can be confusing, to say the least. I saw this while surfing CNN to check up on the latest on Will Hayden, “star” of the reality show “Sons of Guns” who has gotten himself arrested – and his show promptly cancelled - for allegedly repeatedly raping a child. Dude. No. Just… no.

Is this model ‘curvy’? Gap sure thinks so

071714_WOM_falldenim_sort_US_curvy

“Curvy?” Well, I suppose insofar as any line that diverges from absolutely mathematically straight is by definition curved, this model and her pants are “curved,” but really… no. And worse: they’re seventy bucks. I would lay good odds that the jean I buy have *way* more material in them than these, require roughly the same amount of manufacturing processing, cost more to ship due to added weight, and might even be somewhat more rugged, yet they cost only a fraction of the $69.95 Gap wants for these “curvy” narrow denim tubes.

Now, all that said, and because I’m assuming I know my audience and what “curvy” actually looks like… here’s a topless photo of Christina Hendricks:

christinahendricks

And here’s a photo of Kat Dennings without pants:

katdennings

And because why not, here’s Chemistry Cat:

chemcat2014-08-27

 

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

methane

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.

 Yaaaaayyyyyy.

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:

http://sci-ence.org/series/the-ghosts-of-woo-acupuncture/

acupuncture_intro_full

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.

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