Thursday, February 25, 2016

Lying swine lying like a rug, or, The Moral of the "Pershing and the Moros" Story

"They were having terrorism problems, just like we do," Trump said, according to an account in the Washington Post. "And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem."

Actually there is a problem, because the entire tale is a goddamn lie.
Apparently the "Moros" are the trouble children of the Philippines. They fought the Spanish, they fought the Americans, they fought the Japanese, they fought and are fighting the Philippine government. Fucking Moros fight; that's what they do.

I suspect that the lure of Islam for them isn't as much that it promises Paradise as much as it offers a form of religion much more enjoyable than the public piety of Christianity for a people less enamored of hypocrisy. Fight? Sure, where? Sign me up!

Let's not pretend to be innocents, or saints, or savages. This wasn't the Noble Moro against the Rapacious American Imperialists.

Yes, the U.S. had no fucking business being in the Philippines.

But the Moros were a damn hard lot, and the "Moro Rebellion" that set these hard guys against the U.S. Army was a fight that both sides were happy to have. The U.S. was turgid with imperial ambition, and the Muslim inhabitants of the southern portions of the Philippine archipelago, I said; "Moros" in general liked to fight.

The peoples that The Donald lumped as "terrorists" and Filipinos termed "moors" are, in the words of the Encyclopedia Britannica:
"...classified linguistically into 10 subgroups: the Maguindanao of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao provinces; the Maranao of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur provinces; the Tausug, mostly of Jolo Island; the Samal, mostly in the Sulu Archipelago; the Bajau, mostly in the Sulu Archipelago; the Yakan of Zamboanga del Sur province; the Ilanon of southern Mindanao; the Sangir of southern Mindanao; the Melabugnan of southern Palawan; and the Jama Mapun of the Cagayan Islands."
These folks fought each other when they had nobody else to fight, but probably in the way of tribesmen everywhere ascribed to the "me and my brother against my cousin; me, my brother, and my cousin against the stranger" school of politics.

They ran a thriving slave trade, did a little pirating when the spirit moved them, and were generally a pest to everyone who couldn't put a bullet- or sword-shaped hole in them.

It's not surprising that they fought against the U.S. forces under Pershing.

But here's the thing; the most distinctive characteristic of Pershing's strategy in hammering these tribes wasn't brutality and pig's blood. It was his craft and diplomacy.

This isn't to say that American officers didn't try that pig stuff; they did. One naval officer recalled that a GI trick for persuading the locals not to go on a theological killing spree (called a juramentado) was
"...the custom of wrapping the dead man in a pig's skin and stuffing his mouth with pork. As the pig was an unclean animal, this was considered unspeakable defilement."
Another gimmick was recounted in the 1938 book Jungle Patrol attributing to one COL Rodgers of the 6th US Cavalry:
"...a system of burying all dead juramentados in a common grave with the carcasses of slaughtered pigs. The Mohammedan religion forbids contact with pork; and this relatively simple device resulted in the withdrawal of juramentados to sections not containing a Rodgers."
However, all this pork didn't stop the Moros. They kept fighting then and are still fighting - albeit sporadically and ineffectually - today.

Pershing, on the other hand, took a longer view. Assuming that the United States would be the ruling power in the Philippines for generations he had little or no interest in starting American-Moro blood feuds with the locals. He took the time to learn the local language and reportedly did his best to puzzle out the local politics and leaders.
"Pershing’s strategy has often been described by historians as one of divide and conquer. But the Moros, by the very nature of their societal institutions, were already divided. Rather, Pershing focused on sorting out who were his friends, who were his enemies, and who were in between. He sensed that at some point (correctly) he would have to fight some of the most recalcitrant datus. Unlike Baldwin, he knew he could not fight everyone, and it would be most unwise to fight someone he did not have to and unnecessarily add more enemies as a result." (Fulton, 2007)
During Pershing's tenure as governor of Moro Province he sent U.S. troops to fight several times; against Tausug tribal forces at Bud Dajo in 1911 and, again against Tausug tribes at Bud Bagsak in 1913. Both times the Moro dead far outnumbered the American (and Moro Scout troops) losses.

Pershing found what every American satrap in Moroland found; that trying to civilize Moros with a Krag was just nuts to the Moros; they liked to fight - ummm...did I mention they liked to fight? - and they continued to fight long after Pershing and all his troops gave up and left. There was fighting and killing, a lot of killing, and ruin and hatred.

But pig blood and pig parts were nowhere to be found.

If Trump was anything but a great fool he would have learned from the tale of Pershing and the Moros what I learned in just a few hours of brief research of the story. That of all wars - which are all generally insensible, wasteful, and unprofitable - religious and racial wars are the least sensible, the most wasteful, and the least profitable. That talking fondly of imperial wars in Muslim lands is at best idiotic and at worst criminal, in that the resulting butchery is almost inevitably going to include horrific atrocities and the deaths of noncombatants.

That what the tale of Pershing and the Moros teaches us is that we do best for ourselves and for others when we tend to our troubles and leave the others to their own.

But Trump, and those who now roar for him, are indeed great fools and will not heed the lesson.

(Note: For those interesting in learning more about the Moro Rebellion, Moroland, and the history I've sketched out here the blog Moroland is a terrific resource and has both readable accounts of the events of the early 20th Century as we as a terrific library of pictures. Huge shoutout to Robert Fulton, the author and blog curator, for his good work...)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Aftermarket parts

The prolonged silence around this joint is largely because I'm pretty much in the terminal segment of the descending branch of my appointment with the MOPAR guy; I'm getting a total hip replacement next Tuesday. My right side has gotten so bad that just moving is painful and small children point at me and scream when I hobble past. Yes, I look like The Hunchback, you little bastards. I know.
I won't pretend I'm thrilled. Yes, the result will be better than my present crippled mess. No, it's not "good". It's just better than what I have. I am still resentful and angry that I've been dealt a shitty hand and can't do anything but play it out. There are also the risks attendant on any large surgery AND the time and effort that go into a painful recovery. Like a Republican voter, I'm angry that I have to deal with the painful and difficult present to get to the promised better future that may or may not arrive.

Speaking of those fucking there anyone who can pretend that something like 15-20% of the U.S. electorate hasn't lost its fucking mind? I mean, here's a guy who is just a ridiculous buffoon, a raw, infiltered Id-iot demagogue that has openly espoused torture, racism, aggressive war and domestic espionage. Closing houses of worship? Seriously? You'd think that even a mouth-breathing cousin-marriage-spawned Christopath would have been out the door on THAT one.

Speaking of which...this year's Republican primaries have done a great job of reminding me why political Christianity - at least, as it commonly appears in the "conservative" spectrum of U.S. politics - appeals to me about as much as a solid dose of the clap.

Fred Clarke notes that it's not a matter of some sort of individual choice on the part of the bible-bangers as much as it is a complete failure of the Christian Right to include any sort of genuinely Christian ethics in their catechism;
"...the Christian moral formation of these supposed Christians they have not been offered an adequate inoculation against this kind of politics. What they needed was instruction in a version of Christianity with ironclad commitments to civility, solidarity, justice, mercy, compassion, rule of law, and human rights, commitments so strong and so well-engrained in believers that to support someone like Trump would be unthinkable. But they have not received that inoculation."
This isn't just Trump. His closest rival, Ted Cruz, spouts similar noxious bullshit, and the Jesus-pesterers eat it up.

The full effect appears to be that the "vulgar talking yam", as Pierce likes to call him, is all over the GOP like stank on an old gym shoe. Barring a complete disaster he will be the candidate this fall, and I cannot imagine a worse indictment of the goddamn U.S. public. The GOP cannot help this nation in any way if it is the Party of Trumpism. There is nothing that can be said other than what I've said here again and again; Ceterum censeo GOP esse delendam.

The GOP serves no real useful purpose at this point. And, worse, in its existing form it is destroying the political conventions that make U.S. governance possible. We’re rapidly approaching 1859, and for much the same reasons only instead of slavery the hothouse ideology “threatened” by change is some sort of hellbrew of racism, greed, and flopsweat panic fear of imaginary jihadi invasion.

And stupidity – if you’re voting for Republicans because you’re mad at the wealthy vulture capitalists shipping your job overseas you’re in the same position as a pig voting for Jimmy Dean. Racist, greedy, and stupid is no way to go through life, son, and yet it's pretty much the default Republican position on, well, everything.

Oh, yeah, and there's their take on the fucking Malheur Morons. Oddly, the only one of the clowns that hasn't openly embraced the Metal Mulisha is Trump. Probably because they lost, and losers lose; Trumps are winning winners that win! Christ on a fucking crutch.

Nuke it from space. Seriously. That’s the only fucking way to be sure.

Oh, one more thing since we've been talking about Il Douche; at least he gave someone the inspiration for this:

Gad, what a vile shitshow these people are.

Did I tell you that the Girl has taken up the ancient sport and combat skill of archery?

She and the Bride have been going to our local Trackers indoor range to shoot, and both of them have become damn proficient, the Amazons. Speaking of which, my inamorata - who is still abundantly endowed even after going through surgery to reduce the endowment - says that she has developed a whole ne appreciation for the old story about the women warriors being, um, monomammilary. She has to alter her stance fairly significantly to about getting slapped with the bowstring in a rather delicate place.

Sometimes I'm damn glad I'm not female. The discomfort setting seems pretty high.

Anyway, Trackers is pretty much made of awesome. We're talking a place where you can live-action roleplay, or learn to smithy a utility knife, or card wool and spin cloth, or find medicinal plants. I would have been all over Trackers if we'd had one whan I was a kid, and I love the Little Miss loves her some Trackers.

Here's a couple of snapshots of the two maenads firing away. Here's the Girl:
Mojo takes up a good kneeling unsupported firing position:
Contemplating the perforated foes:
Good shooting, ladies!
I've enjoyed all this Robin Hoody exercise, although my personal fantasy is as a Parthian horse-archer at Carrhae, and so as such I've tried to duplicate the tactic of starting with my back to the target, stringing, turning and firing.

Let's just say that the Parthians and I are lucky I was born 2,000 years too late.

But not late enough to have bionic hips. Dammit.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Maybe it IS you...

...when everything you think you know is actually and completely wrong.

Jim Fallows has a new post up arguing that America doesn't have to be great again because, well, because it never really stopped being fairly great. That the current what-appears-to-be-common-and-popular political trope about the U.S. as a shrieking hellscape is...mistaken. And that the secret to changing that trope tell people about all this good news.

My argument is that this trope is anything but a mistake. It's a lie, a damned, dirty lie repeated by damned dirty liars and Republicans but I repeat myself. And that the grifter and liars know that and will not change anything because the lying and grifting is profitable and that their marks and stooges won't change, either, because they're too goddamn investing in the lies as part of their mindset.

I should add that the most significant problem - real problem as opposed to the fantasy-problem of screaming hordes of Zika-infected, ISIS-allied Mexican terrorist-rapists coming over the walls to adulterate our precious bodily fluids - of the New Gilded Age - the louring oligarchy that has thoroughly corrupted our politics and our media - never seems to wander into the liars' wheelhouse.

Which is, of course, the whole point of the lie.

But here's where I think that Fallows is wasting his ink. The people who believe these lies, the people who believe that they need to elect a short-fingered vulgarian real-estate swindler and serial adulterer to "Make America Great Again", have no interest in facts, or realities, or anything other than their own moronic delusions. Telling them that " important task for moving beyond our current era of a Second Gilded Age is connecting the stories and examples of people and places that are figuring out how to cope..." won't change their minds.

So far as they are concerned the Damned Lib'ruls and the Kenywn Usurper have destroyed America's once-awesome military power, flooded the nation with illegal Mexicans and Syrians, debased the currency, encouraged homos to screw children and animals and each other, and carpeted the path to the welfare office with a red carpet made from aborted baby parts.

As I've said before; I won't talk about U.S. politics because they're nothing left for me to say. And there's really nothing here for me, either. This is just a thing. If these people had a functioning cerebrum they'd see how ridiculous they are and change. They don't; they're working off the old lizard-brain, and doing nothing more useful than any other reptile snapping at the shadows it believes are insects.

But what is depressing to contemplate is that this sort of America the Terrible obsession seems to have subsumed perhaps one-fifth to a quarter of the American electorate.

And a maneuver unit that has taken 30% casualties is usually assessed combat-ineffective and completely worthless for anything but parting out and completely rebuilding.

A long time ago in an island arc not so far away...

I think this is an artifact of a 33-40 million year old earthquake that occurred in the old island-arc off Oregon that is now the Coast Range.

The lower (left in the picture) material was a coarse grained pyroclastic sand, probably deposited as an ash-flow in the shallow seas around the old island chain. At the time what is today's Oregon Coast Range was an offshore chain of volcanic islands, very like the modern Japanese home islands. These rascals huffed and puffed a lot of volcanic ash into the air and from thence into the Eocene seas off what is today the Pacific Northwest.

You can see that a layer of gray silt was deposited above it, but you can also see that the silt is broken in the middle and the orange sand has pushed right through it.

On top of the silt (to the right) the sand has flowed out onto the surface of the silt, making a layered mound; these things are called “sand blows” or “sand volcanoes” and are a typical surface feature of liquefaction during strong earthquakes.

Just my interpretation, mind you; if you have two data points and two geologists you will typically get eight working hypotheses. hopes that the Eocene building codes were being stringently enforced.

Oh, and what do you get if you have one data point and one engineer?

A regression line calculated to four significant figures.

just sayin'.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Worth a thousand words

This pretty much says it all.

Look at this fathead; standing on his beater-ass Dodge p-up on a road in eastern Oregon, all camo'ed up with what looks like his ballistic vest, boots and K-pot like he was going in to clean out Fallujah.

The American in me wants to take a piece of dimension lumber upside his helmet for being a dumbass seditionist supporting armed treason.

The drill sergeant in me wants to lock his friggin' heels.

"Sweetbabyjesussonofabitch what fucking dumpster did you dive in to get that outfit, precious? Did you wanna play Army like the big kids, or were they just our of warm clothes down at the Rescue Mission? And who taught you how to lace those boots, hero, your baby sister? Have you ever SEEN a can of boot-polish, slick, or was your plan always "Rub my boots in the dirt"? Or did you rub them on your ass, since you look as dark and dirty as a fuckin winter day?

Fasten that goddamn chinstrap, you sorry oxygen-thief, and what did you shave with, a cue-tip? Have you EVER shaved, or did your mommy teach you not to play with sharp objects? I've seen less hair on my dog's ass, sweetheart, and unless you feel like finding my boot in yours I suggest you get a goddamn shave, lace and polish those boots, and square that helmet away and all in about ten picoseconds or you are likely to have a fucking close encounter with a fucking cattle prod..."

Honestly. These people.

A cigarette and a cookie

The Malheur Moron Mulisha is finally all either in the sneezer, run away, or in one case biding safe in a ditch, food for worms.

The last of these heroes chieu-hoi'ed after asking for a coffin-nail and a cookie. From snacks to smokes, at least these jokers were true to their Constitutional cravings for cheap thrills and snack foods to the last.
The bonus round, however, goes to the original armed seditionist and welfare moocher Cliven Bundy, who flew the Friendly Skies right into federal custody. Seems you ain't the sharpest barb on the wire, Cliven, ol' shoe. You may have thought you were done with the feds but they sure as hell ain't done with you.

And that's goddamn good.
Because the Stupid, it's still out there. It continues to live, free and wild, even as these sad bastards will hopefully begin meeting their new Aryan Brotherhood friends for their long occupation of a very different sort of federal facility.

It even continues to arrive here, in eastern Oregon, even now - the latest import of this nonsense coming in from Nevada in the form of one Michele Fiore, elected representative of Clark County and wanna-be U.S. Congresswoman. Michele's quite the piece of work, and here she is on the subject of our latest outbreak of armed sedition:
"Fiore promised that the cause for which they fought – defending citizen rights under the Constitution – would go on even if they were arrested."
Citizen rights, my sweet rosy-red ass.
If these damn traitors were "defending" anything other than their own goddamn greed and stupidity then I am the goddamn Dragon King of Bhutan.

This, this is the exact sort of thing that should be throttled in the throat of any seditious liar that utters it. This is the sort of thing the sows these Cadmus traitors, a sort of Cheeto-shaped mental eyetooth that awakens their hunger for power (and snacks, and maybe a Marlboro, but, hey..."defending citizen rights under the Constitution" can't be done on C-rations.

Wait. What?)

For all their irritating rhetoric and seditious treason these morons are just the cannon fodder. The meat waiting for a bullet so it can be finally put to a useful purpose to fill in the fosse. Only the (rather low-hanging) fruit of the poison tree.

Fiore. Fiore is the fucking tree.

It is her beliefs - the guns trump ballots, that traitors are "patriots", that the commons are for the taking of anyone armed enough and selfish enough and greedy enough to take it - and her spouting those beliefs, and the public post she has been given to spout those damn deadly treasonous beliefs that is the root and branch that bears this bitter (albeit perhaps smoky and Oreo-tasting) fruit of treason.
And government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall perish from the earth if We the People do not take the axe to her, to people like her, and cut them down at the ground, dynamite the fucking stumps, and salt the earth to ensure that no more like them will spring from it no matter how many American Spirits and Doritos and .45ACP rounds seditious bastards like Bundy and Finicum and, yes, like Fiore sow there.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

You never hear the carcinogen that gets you...

A friend of mine posted a link to an article in one of our newsweeklies about a teensy little problem in Southeast Portland:
"Within days, state officials are slated to release the alarming results of a monitoring program of airborne heavy metals, including arsenic, conducted this past October in inner Southeast Portland, the Mercury has learned. The state Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority plan to announce that DEQ data indicate a monthly average of 49 times the state air-safety benchmark level for the neurotoxin and carcinogen cadmium, and 159 times DEQ's air-safety goal for the carcinogen arsenic...most immediately at risk are two Portland schools — Cleveland High School and Winterhaven K-8 — and a 100-child, private day care facility on the nearby Fred Meyer corporate campus that serves children as young as six weeks old."
Unsurprisingly, this young woman was horrified; "Yowza. This should NOT be a loophole!" she observed.
The thing is, I've worked on more than a few DEQ projects and I put it to her that the real problem was that this wasn't a "loophole" in the sense that the facility in question - a specialty glassmaker - was slipping through a flaw in the rules.

Oregon DEQ's rules are contained in the Oregon Adminstrative Rules, or OARs, and the regulation involved here is OAR 340 and its various divisions. If you go read the rules defining regulated pollutants it's pretty chastening how much airborne contaminants are permissible.

And that's critical. The term used in the regs is "PSEL": Permissible Site Emission Limit". Note that the linked Merc article says this:
"...DEQ data indicate a monthly average of 49 times the state air-safety BENCHMARK LEVEL for the neurotoxin and carcinogen cadmium, and 159 times DEQ's AIR-SAFETY GOAL for the carcinogen arsenic..." (emphasis mine).
Notice what's NOT there?


There's no indication that the glass plant has exceeded its PSEL. Meaning that if it hasn't, there's no grounds for enforcement. DEQ can't bust 'em if their emissions are high...but within their PSEL. The PSELs aren't written to account for the surrounding of the emitter, in most cases, so here the proximity of schools and day-care centers doesn't factor in, either.
So the real problem is reducing the PSEL...and that's kind of a nightmare.

Just to give an example, the federal EPA sets what are known as "PEL" - permissible exposure limits" for hazardous materials. The Nation Institute of Occupational Safety and Health - NIOSH - sets something call a "Recommended Exposure Limit", or REL. Typically RELs are lower - sometimes MUCH lower - than PELs. Why?

Here's a great explanation from the blog Chemdaq:
"NIOSH RELs are supposed to be based on the best available science (using human or animal health effects data). "OSHA PELs, on the other hand, are subject to the rulemaking and political process, meaning that the interests of all parties involved are taken into consideration. Thus, OSHA does not have the luxury of relying strictly on science. Establishing PELs sometimes even come down to court rulings.

To be frank, the OSHA PEL is not the safe limit below which harm cannot occur. Rather it is the legal limit (i.e. what is “permissible”), below which serious harm should not occur to most people. Thus, while the OSHA PEL represents the legal exposure limit, it does not necessarily represent the desired exposure level. To that extent, the NIOSH REL is the more appropriate number."
So we're happily poisoning ourselves - just a little, just a bit, just a smidgen at a time, perhaps...oer perhaps not - because to reduce those poisons to a level where "serious harm should not happen to ALL people" would cause other people not to make money or to lose their jobs.
Or, as Donald Trump would say; "PEL? PSEL? Schmel! A little cadmium never hurt anybody! Regulations just cripple our job creators' ability to make YUUGE wealth creation for wealthy, job-creating winners who win!"

Is there an easy answer here?


But I can tell you what's the wrong goddamn answer. And that's the one that you hear all the time from "conservatives" and "job creators" and which I put into the Libidinous Visitor's big, fat, mouth.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Pre-Trumpialites Erwache!

Before our recent return to domestic comb-over authoritarian blowhard populist demagogues in the form of a certain thick-fingered-vulgarian-who-shall-not-be-named the last serious attempt by white people outside Louisiana to create a Pure and True Aryan Nation took place in, of all places, southern California at a place called Murphy's Ranch.
This thing was, supposedly, going to be the SoCal Berghof for the American Leaders of the Aryan race back in the day. Maybe. The story isn't exactly clear:
"...(LA) county records say a Jessie M. Murphy purchased the property in 1933...(however) there is no other record of her, and no one in the area ever saw her. The name Murphy Ranch, however, stuck.

Norman Stephens was an engineer with silver mining interests in Colorado, and apparently financed the operation. His wife, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, had a strong belief in metaphysical phenomena, and apparently fell under the spell of
(a mysterious but persuasive German named Herr) Schmidt, who claimed to have supernatural powers.

Schmidt convinced the Stephenses that once Europe collapsed and Germany emerged victorious in the war, anarchy would break out across the country, and law and order would break down. His plan was to create a command center in which the National Socialist community would wait out the war. They could then emerge from their mountain retreat and impose order on society."
Needless to say, this plan had...ummmm...a few flaws.

But pieces of this California Alpenfestung remain, and you can wander through them today. It sounds like a fairly surreal experience, even for southern California.

In Oregon, I'm afraid, our homegrown fascists are both less imaginative and a lot less photogenic.

Un dimanche après-midi à l'Île de la Grande Poney

You won't understand unless you have a child ensnared in the wiles of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Trust me, though; it's freaking brilliant.

From the rather awe-inspiring pen of Amy Mebberson (whose Pocket Princesses I have raved about before at this joint...). Run, don't walk, down to your local comic store and buy her Disney Princesses, coming out in February. I would say more, but there are not enough words. She is simply a comic goddess whose Sharpie I am not worthy to uncap.