Archive for March, 2011
28 Mar 2011

Stoner Gets Workman’s Comp, But Business Closes

, , ,

HuffPo quotes a humorous local events item from the Missoulian.

The Montana Supreme Court has upheld a Workers’ Compensation Court ruling that about $65,000 in medical bills incurred by a man who was mauled while feeding the bears at a tourist attraction should be covered by workers’ compensation, despite the fact the man had smoked marijuana on the day of the attack.

The court filed its opinion Tuesday, the Daily Inter Lake reported.

Brock Hopkins filed a claim with the Uninsured Employers’ Fund in December 2007, saying he suffered injuries to his legs and buttocks when he was mauled by a bear at Great Bear Adventures near Glacier National Park on Nov. 2, 2007. Hopkins was treated for his injuries at a Kalispell hospital.

The UEF denied Hopkins’ claim because Hopkins had smoked marijuana before entering a bear enclosure. The fund also argued that Hopkins was acting outside the scope of his duties.

Park owner Russell Kilpatrick, who did not have workers’ compensation coverage, argued that Hopkins was a volunteer who Kilpatrick occasionally gave cash to “out of his heart.” Hopkins fed the bears that day after Kilpatrick told him not to because he was tapering their food as they prepared for hibernation, Kilpatrick said.

The Workers’ Compensation Court ruled last June that Hopkins was an employee and noted that while his “use of marijuana to kick off a day of working around grizzly bears was ill-advised to say the least and mind-bogglingly stupid to say the most,” there was no evidence presented regarding Hopkins’ level of impairment.

The WCC found that grizzlies are “equal opportunity maulers” without regard to marijuana consumption. …

[T]he agency [paid] an estimated $35,000 in discounted medical bills on behalf of Hopkins. Kilpatrick paid a small penalty for failing to carry workers’ compensation insurance, Nevin said.

A phone listing for Kilpatrick in Coram has been disconnected and there is no phone listing for Great Bear Adventures.

Both outlets overlook the more serious moral here. The Montana’s Supreme Court’s witty and charitable decision and the consequent “small penalty” seem to have closed the Great Bear Adventures Park operation and put its owner out of business. Ho, ho, ho.

Hat tip to John Whiston.

27 Mar 2011

“Do-Gooders in a Land with No Good Guys”

,

Mark Steyn identifies some of the key problems with postmodern kinetic interventions in pursuit of undefined objectives in situations in which no one is on our side.

[I]t’s easy to mock the smartest, most articulate man ever to occupy the Oval Office. Instead, in a nonpartisan spirit, let us consider why it is that the United States no longer wins wars. OK, it doesn’t exactly lose (most of) them, but nor does it have much to show for a now-60-year old pattern of inconclusive outcomes. American forces have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for a decade: Doesn’t that seem like a long time for a noncolonial power to be spending hacking its way through the worthless terrain of a Third World dump? If the object is to kill terrorists, might there not be some slicker way of doing it? And, if the object is something else entirely, mightn’t it be nice to know what it is?

I use the word “noncolonial” intentionally. I am by temperament and upbringing an old-school imperialist: There are arguments to be made for being on the other side of the world for decades on end if you’re claiming it as sovereign territory and rebuilding it in your image, as the British did in India, Belize, Mauritius, the Solomon Islands, you name it. Likewise, there are arguments to be made for saying, sorry, we’re a constitutional republic, we don’t do empire. But there’s not a lot to be said for forswearing imperialism and even modest cultural assertiveness, and still spending 10 years getting shot up in Afghanistan helping to create, bankroll and protect a so-called justice system that puts a man on death row for converting to Christianity.

Libya, in that sense, is a classic post-nationalist, post-modern military intervention: As in Kosovo, we’re do-gooders in a land with no good guys. But, unlike Kosovo, not only is there no strategic national interest in what we’re doing, the intended result is likely to be explicitly at odds with U.S. interests. A quarter-century back, Gadhafi was blowing American airliners out of the sky and murdering British policewomen: That was the time to drop a bomb on him. But we didn’t. Everyone from the Government of Scotland (releasing the “terminally ill” Lockerbie bomber, now miraculously restored to health) to Mariah Carey and Beyonce (with their million-dollar-a-gig Gadhafi party nights) did deals with the Colonel.

Now suddenly he’s got to go – in favor of “freedom-loving” “democrats” from Benghazi. That would be in eastern Libya – which, according to West Point’s Counter Terrorism Center, has sent per capita the highest number of foreign jihadists to Iraq. Perhaps now that so many Libyan jihadists are in Iraq, the Libyans left in Libya are all Swedes in waiting. But perhaps not. If we lack, as we do in Afghanistan, the cultural confidence to wean those we liberate from their less-attractive pathologies, we might at least think twice before actively facilitating them.

Officially, only the French are committed to regime change. So suppose Gadhafi survives. If you were in his shoes, mightn’t you be a little peeved? Enough to pull off a new Lockerbie? A more successful assassination attempt on the Saudi king? A little bit of Euro-bombing?

Alternatively, suppose Gadhafi winds up hanging from a lamppost in his favorite party dress. If you’re a Third World dictator, what lessons would you draw? Gadhafi was the thug who came in from the cold, the one who (in the wake of Saddam’s fall) renounced his nuclear program and was supposedly rehabilitated in the chancelleries of the West. He was “a strong partner in the war on terrorism,” according to U.S. diplomats. And what did Washington do? They overthrew him anyway.

The blood-soaked butcher next door in Sudan is the first head of state to be charged by the International Criminal Court with genocide, but nobody’s planning on toppling him. Iran’s going nuclear with impunity, but Obama sends fraternal greetings to the “Supreme Leader” of the “Islamic Republic.” North Korea is more or less openly trading as the one-stop bargain-basement for all your nuke needs, and we’re standing idly by. But the one cooperative dictator’s getting million-dollar-a-pop cruise missiles lobbed in his tent all night long. If you were the average Third World loon, which role model makes most sense? Colonel Cooperative in Tripoli? Or Ayatollah Death-to-the-Great-Satan in Tehran? America is teaching the lesson that the best way to avoid the attentions of whimsical “liberal interventionists” is to get yourself an easily affordable nuclear program from Pyongyang, or anywhere else, as soon as possible.

I don’t really have a problem with knocking off Qaddafi (who has actually contrived the murder of hundreds of Americans in the past). His elimination is long past due. But Obama is not even certain that he thinks Qaddafi needs to surrender power, and we have no basis for supposing that we are spending all those expensive cruise missiles on replacing him with a less barbarous and less dangerous alternative.

27 Mar 2011

A Generation Without Skills

, , ,


Sharpening a knife

Anne Merritt complacently describes a list of skills which today’s millenials are apparently content to go without. Her list includes using a standard transmission (no real sports cars for you, kiddies!), cooking anything from scratch (no real food either), building anything, fixing anything, penmanship, and even sharpening a knife.

Compare the late Robert A. Heinlein‘s opinion of minimal masculine competence.


A man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

——————————

SHARPENING A KNIFE

The best method is to use a flat stone. Ideally, to do a really excellent job on a very dull knife, you want three stones: in order of coarseness, a coarse carborundum, a soft Washita stone, and a hard black Arkansas stone, but you can pick up a flat rock off the ground and use it if you have nothing better.

Wet the stone. A light machine oil is best, but water, even spit, will do.

Take your knife and pretend that you are trying to cut a thin slice off the stone, cutting away from you. Do one side and then the other. The angle you want is quite effectively approximated by pretending to be cutting a thin slice off the stone.

Obviously, if you have coarser and finer stones, you start with the coarse and end with the finer stone. Hard black Arkansas
stones are expensive, but you can produce the finest finished edges with one of those.

High-end custom knife makers, like Randall, commonly supply small medium India whetstone in a pouch outside the sheath. One little India stone of that sort is basically adequate.

27 Mar 2011

Earth Hour, 2011

,

The lights went out in Southern California, and other centers of contemporary intellectual life, last night as the bien pensant intelligentsia cursed the technology that delivers light and embraced the darkness.

KTLA News reported the day before:

Notable Southern California landmarks such as the glowing pylons at Los Angeles International Airport and the Queen Mary in Long Beach will go dark between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday night in observance of international “Earth Hour.”

Millions of people from more than 100 countries and territories are expected to participate in the event by switching off lights and nonessential appliances in order to conserve energy and demonstrate an awareness of environmental conservation.

At LAX, the 100-foot-tall pylons will glow solid green an hour before the event and then go dark, according to airport officials. The color-changing LAX Gateway pylons were installed in August 2000. Five years later, airport workers installed a new system of LED fixtures that consume 75% less electricity than the previous lamps and burn for 75,000 to 100,000 hours, compared to 3,000 hours for the original lights, according to airport officials.

In Long Beach the Queen Mary’s exterior lights will be turned off. The event will be accompanied by entertainment, such as the ship’s captain answering historical questions and local competitive cyclists producing energy for a light display. Participants will also receive vendor giveaways. Hotel guests will be asked to turn off their nonessential stateroom lights.

In Santa Monica, the famous Pacific Wheel on the city’s pier will go dark. The ferris wheel’s emergency lights will remain on.

At the Home Depot Center in Carson, in partnership with Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, will turn off all nonessential lighting of the 27,000-seat soccer stadium, including all lighting in the venue’s 42 luxury suites, according to AEG, the company that owns and operates the venue. The Chivas will be hosting the Colorado Rapids.

Other AEG facilities throughout the state will also participate, including LA Live, the entertainment hub in downtown Los Angeles.

Earth Hour is organized by World Wide Fund, one of the world’s largest independent conservation organizations, and started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for an hour to stand against climate change.

——————————

Watts Up With That reprinted for the occasion Ross McKitrick‘s dissenting 2009 essay.

I abhor Earth Hour. Abundant, cheap electricity has been the greatest source of human liberation in the 20th century. Every material social advance in the 20th century depended on the proliferation of inexpensive and reliable electricity.

Giving women the freedom to work outside the home depended on the availability of electrical appliances that free up time from domestic chores. Getting children out of menial labour and into schools depended on the same thing, as well as the ability to provide safe indoor lighting for reading.

Development and provision of modern health care without electricity is absolutely impossible. The expansion of our food supply, and the promotion of hygiene and nutrition, depended on being able to irrigate fields, cook and refrigerate foods, and have a steady indoor supply of hot water. …

The whole mentality around Earth Hour demonizes electricity. I cannot do that, instead I celebrate it and all that it has provided for humanity.

Earth Hour celebrates ignorance, poverty and backwardness. By repudiating the greatest engine of liberation it becomes an hour devoted to anti-humanism. It encourages the sanctimonious gesture of turning off trivial appliances for a trivial amount of time, in deference to some ill-defined abstraction called “the Earth,” all the while hypocritically retaining the real benefits of continuous, reliable electricity.

People who see virtue in doing without electricity should shut off their fridge, stove, microwave, computer, water heater, lights, TV and all other appliances for a month, not an hour. And pop down to the cardiac unit at the hospital and shut the power off there too.

I don’t want to go back to nature. Travel to a zone hit by earthquakes, floods and hurricanes to see what it’s like to go back to nature. For humans, living in “nature” meant a short life span marked by violence, disease and ignorance. People who work for the end of poverty and relief from disease are fighting against nature. I hope they leave their lights on.

[T]hrough the use of pollution control technology and advanced engineering, our air quality has dramatically improved since the 1960s, despite the expansion of industry and the power supply.

If, after all this, we are going to take the view that the remaining air emissions outweigh all the benefits of electricity, and that we ought to be shamed into sitting in darkness for an hour, like naughty children who have been caught doing something bad, then we are setting up unspoiled nature as an absolute, transcendent ideal that obliterates all other ethical and humane obligations.

No thanks.

I like visiting nature but I don’t want to live there, and I refuse to accept the idea that civilization with all its tradeoffs is something to be ashamed of.

26 Mar 2011

Al-Qaeda Has Acquired SAM-7s and Heavy Weapons in Libya

, , ,


Nicarauguan Army training with SAM-7

The Australian Daily Telegraph reports that the uprising in Libya has produced a weapons windfall for the North African al-Qaeda branch, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Al-Qaeda’s offshoot in North Africa has snatched surface-to-air missiles from an arsenal in Libya during the civil strife there, Chad’s President says.

Idriss Deby Itno did not say how many surface-to-air missiles were stolen, but told the African weekly Jeune Afrique that he was “100 per cent sure” of his assertion.

“The Islamists of al-Qaeda took advantage of the pillaging of arsenals in the rebel zone to acquire arms, including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries in Tenere,” a desert region of the Sahara that stretches from northeast Niger to western Chad, Deby said in the interview.

“This is very serious. AQIM is becoming a genuine army, the best equipped in the region,” he said.

His claim was echoed by officials in other countries in the region who said that they were worried that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) might have acquired “heavy weapons”, thanks to the insurrection. …

“We have the same information,” about heavy weapons, including SAM 7 missiles, a military source from Niger said.

26 Mar 2011

The Coalition of the Unwilling

, ,

Charles Krauthammer rants over the disarray of the NATO coalition and the irresolution of its leadership.

As of this writing, Britain wanted the operation to be led by NATO. France adamantly disagreed, citing Arab sensibilities. Germany wanted no part of anything, going so far as to pull four of its ships from NATO command in the Mediterranean. France and Germany walked out of a NATO meeting on Monday, while Norway had planes in Crete ready to go but refused to let them fly until it had some idea who the hell is running the operation. And Turkey, whose prime minister four months ago proudly accepted the Qaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, has been particularly resistant to the Libya operation from the beginning.

And as for the United States, who knows what American policy is. Administration officials insist we are not trying to bring down Qaddafi, even as the president insists that he must go. Although on Tuesday Obama did add “unless he changes his approach.” Approach, mind you.

In any case, for Obama, military objectives take a back seat to diplomatic appearances. The president is obsessed with pretending that we are not running the operation — a dismaying expression of Obama’s view that his country is so tainted by its various sins that it lacks the moral legitimacy to . . . what? Save Third World people from massacre?

Obama seems equally obsessed with handing off the lead role. Hand off to whom? NATO? Quarreling amid Turkish resistance (see above), NATO still can’t agree on taking over command of the airstrike campaign, which is what has kept the Libyan rebels alive.

This confusion is purely the result of Obama’s decision to get America into the war and then immediately relinquish American command. Never modest about himself, Obama is supremely modest about his country. America should be merely “one of the partners among many,” he said Monday. No primus inter pares for him. Even the Clinton administration spoke of America as the indispensable nation. And it remains so. Yet at a time when the world is hungry for America to lead — no one has anything near our capabilities, experience, and resources — America is led by a man determined that it should not.

A man who dithers over parchment. Who starts a war from which he wants out right away. Good God. If you go to take Vienna, take Vienna. If you’re not prepared to do so, better then to stay home and do nothing.

26 Mar 2011

Libya versus Iraq

, , ,

Hat tip to Richard Fernandez who reflects on history, while contemplating the unhappy spectacle of escalating regime violence in response to protests in Syria:

Deraa, the site of one of the many protests, was where the fledgling Royal Air Force won its first ground-air battle in 1918 in support of Colonel T. E. Lawrence’s Arab Revolt. He was cutting the lifeline of the Ottoman empire. Viewed from the 21st century, the battle seems almost quaint: biplanes dropping a few pounds of bombs from low altitude and landing to rendezvous with riders in flowing robes on steaming horses. But those riders, all encased in cotton, creaky leather and sweat, had the virtue of knowing which end was up. Today we are even luckier to be led, not simply by the competent and daring, but by leaders who are truly awesome.

25 Mar 2011

The Scientific Swindler (1884-1891)

, , , , , ,

A scientific swindler preyed on American scientists working in Geology during a period extending from 1884 to 1891, obtaining books, specimens, and money from a number of American scholars. He had a good knowledge of Eastern European languages, was well acquainted with the field and frequently assumed the names of prominent authorities. By the time he vanished from history, he had also accurately identified large numbers of specimens in American museum collections.

25 Mar 2011

Whose Side Are We On in Libya?

, , , ,

PJM explains that we are supporting, among others, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi who fought American troops in Afghanistan and recruited Libyans to fight American troops in Iraq.

Shortly after unrest broke out in eastern Libya in mid-February, reports emerged that an “Islamic Emirate” had been declared in the eastern Libyan town of Darnah and that, furthermore, the alleged head of that Emirate, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, was a former detainee at the American prison camp in Guantánamo. The reports, which originated from Libyan government sources, were largely ignored or dismissed in the Western media.

Now, however, al-Hasadi has admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that he fought against American forces in Afghanistan. (Hat-tip: Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard.) Al-Hasadi says that he is the person responsible for the defense of Darnah — not the town’s “Emir.” In a previous interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail, he claimed to have a force of about 1,000 men and to have commanded rebel units in battles around the town of Bin Jawad.

“I have never been at Guantánamo,” al-Hasadi explained to Il Sole 24 Ore. “I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion. I was turned over to the Americans, detained for a few months in Islamabad, then turned over to Libya and released from prison in 2008.” …

In his more recent remarks to Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasadi admits not only to fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq. As noted in my earlier PJM report here, captured al-Qaeda personnel records show that al-Hasadi’s hometown of Darnah sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other foreign city or town and “far and away the largest per capita number of fighters.” Al-Hasadi told Il Sole 24 Ore that he personally recruited “around 25” Libyans to fight in Iraq. “Some have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,” al-Hasadi explained, “They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.” “The members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,” al-Hasadi added.

25 Mar 2011

The Wisdom of the Whoosh

, , , ,

Gary Wills reviews, with well-deserved derision, Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly’s All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age, a recent effort by two prominent academic philosophers (Mr. Dreyfus is a professor of Philosophy at Berkeley, Mr. Kelly is chairman of the Philosophy Department at Harvard) to find an authentic basis for values compatible with postmodern Continental Nihilism.

The authors set about to solve the problems of a modern secular culture. The greatest problem, as they see it, is a certain anxiety of choosing. In the Middle Ages, everyone shared the same frame of values. One could offend against that frame by sinning, but the sins were clear, their place in the overall scheme of things ratified by consensus. Now that we do not share such a frame of reference, each person must forge his or her own view of the universe in order to make choices that accord with it. But few people have the will or ability to think the universe through from scratch.

So how can one make intelligent choices? Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly call modern nihilism “the idea that there is no reason to prefer any answer to any other.” They propose what they think is a wise and accepting superficiality. By not trying to get to the bottom of things, one can get glimpses of the sacred from the surface of what they call “whoosh” moments—from the presence of charismatic persons to the shared excitement of a sports event. This last elation is sacred and unifying:

    There is no essential difference, really, in how it feels to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Lord, or to rise as one in joy to sing the praises of the Hail Mary pass, the Immaculate Reception, the Angels, the Saints, the Friars, or the Demon Deacons.

How proud Harvard must be.

Read the whole thing.

I had a number of courses at Yale from the late John N. Findlay, whose normally lofty and Olympian demeanor could actually be ruffled by any reference to Heidegger (whose thought is the foundation of the Nihilism of Messrs. Drefus & Kelly).

Findlay’s customarily serene blue eyes would flash fire at the mention of the odious Swabian sexton’s son. I remember Findlay once pausing to explain, in Oxonian tones dripping with bitterness and contempt, that Heidegger was guilty of systematically confusing emotional states with metaphysical objects. As Dreyfus and Kelly demonstrate, that kind of thing leads, if not to murderous totalitarianism, at least to incontinent puerility.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

25 Mar 2011

Gonna Make Kinetic Miltary Action No More

, ,

Jonah Goldberg mocks the Obama Administration’s latest weasel words.

Kinetic military action‘ is out and ‘a time-limited, scope-limited military action’ is in.

What was it Robert E. Lee said, ‘It is well that a time-limited, scope limited military action is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.’

———————————–


Jake Tapper
, at ABC News, mockingly headlines his report: Make Love, Not Time-Limited, Scope-Limited Military Actions.

24 Mar 2011

“The Man in the Doorway”

A tribute to helicopter gunners and pilots in Vietnam by Marine Michael Rierson.

From Theo.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for March 2011.

















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark