Monday, June 22, 2015

Confiscate all cars.  More car control!  Toughen up car licensing! More car-free zones!

Mad Muslim uses a car to kill 3 and injure 34 in Austria.  Yesterday, President Obama gave a brief speech responding to the attack. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because somebody who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a car.”

A four-year-old boy is reported to be one of three people killed after an SUV ploughed into a crowd of people in Graz, Austria.

Another 34 people were injured in the attack, with six - including two children - said to be in a serious condition.

Eyewitnesses say the driver rammed into crowds at up to 90mph before he got out and began randomly stabbing bystanders, which included the elderly and policemen.

The three victims killed in the attack have been described as a 28-year-old Austrian man, a 25-year-old woman and a four-year-old boy.

The woman and boy were both killed as the driver ploughed through crowds on the main Herrengasse shopping street before reaching the city's main square.

The National Police Director, Josef Klamminger, said the man, who is believed to be a 26-year-old Austrian truck driver, was suffering from 'psychosis' related to 'family problems'.

Police director Klamminger added that the man was under a restraining order keeping him away from the home of his wife and two children, after a domestic violence report was filed against him last month.

The driver did not resist when he was arrested by the police - who say he acted alone - and they have no reason to believe it was an act of terrorism.

The busy square was hosting an event relating to the Austrian Formula One Grand Prix which is being held 80km away, in the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, in Steiermark.

The city council released a statement which read: 'At 12pm there was an appalling incident in the centre of Graz, which has caused major alarm and left the city deeply shaken.'

Provincial Governor Hermann Schuetzenhoefer said at least one of his injured victims is in a critical condition.

He added: 'We are shocked and dismayed... there is no explanation and no excuse for this attack.

'We have much to do to ensure cohesion in our community, which has clearly become difficult for many people.'

German-language website Krone reported that the man arrested by police is of Bosnian origin.


Apologies for the sarcasm in my heading and sub-heading above but the point is an important one.  I am of course deeply grieved at the senseless loss of life involved. As a great fan of Austro/Hungarian operetta, Austria is close to my heart


The REAL reason for gun massacres?

Another mass killing is followed by the usual thoughtless political and media responses. The last time I looked, the southern states of the USA contained plenty of people with white supremacist views, most of them armed.

Indeed, this has been so for more than a century. At the same time, the past few years have seen gun massacres in Britain  (Hungerford and Dunblane), Finland, Norway, Germany and Switzerland, and knife massacres in China, a police state where guns are genuinely difficult to obtain.

So it would seem that blaming these events on widespread gun ownership and white racialism doesn’t quite work. If all these events were properly investigated (and few are, because conventional wisdom closes the minds of investigators), my guess is that almost all of the killers would be found to have been taking legal or illegal mind-altering drugs.

Often, as in the case of James Holmes, the Colorado cinema shooter, the facts don’t emerge for many months. Or the authorities refuse to release the killer’s medical history, as they have done in the Sandy Hook case.

Dylann Roof, the alleged Charleston murderer, was recently arrested for possession of Suboxone, a drug given to opioid abusers, and suspected of causing personality changes and violent outbursts. A student at his high school described him as a ‘pill-popper’.

It is the use of legal and illegal mind-altering drugs that has hugely increased in recent years. Gun ownership and racial bigotry haven’t. Please think about this.


Making drugs illegal promotes foolish use of them


Donald Trump Brings Levity to Presidential Race

Donald Trump would be a mere sideshow curiosity in the 2016 elections if it were not for his name recognition and entertainment factor. According to Real Clear Politics, Trump is polling higher than Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum, Lindsey Graham and Bobby Jindal.

But even if he’s fired in the end — and we hope he is — he will provide some much-needed humor. After Tuesday’s announcement, Politico pulled Trump’s 10 best lines. Notably, however, Politico missed the best one: “When did we beat Japan at anything?”

Well, there was that whole WWII thing in the Pacific…

But to put things in perspective, as absurd as the Trump vanity campaign is, he is far more qualified than Barack Obama was in 2009 — or today! For example, Obama put Joe Biden on his ticket. When Trump was asked who he wanted as a running mate, he replied, “I think Oprah would be great. I’d love to have Oprah.”

Frankly, presidential elections could use a little levity. It’s been a long time since the last billionaire vanity campaign kept us amused, compliments of Ross Perot!


I don't entirely agree with the above.  I think it is defensive.  Trump seems to be more consistently conservative than anyone I can think of in the GOP


President Obama: Stay out of Entrepreneurship

As Ronald Reagan famously said, “the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.’” While champions of limited government are in favor of entrepreneurship, do we really want the federal government to decide on which companies to invest in? After President Obama’s announcement that the White House plans to invest in entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad, what should we expect? The Spark Global Entrepreneurship coalition plans to raise $1 billion in private funding for entrepreneurs in the United States and abroad by 2017. At face value, this may seem like a fine idea – but this is actually very bad news.

Our government should not be in the position of picking winners and losers. Politicization inevitably plagues everything touched by government and political elites. The White House press release on the initiative states, “The United States is making empowering women and youth a central objective of its global entrepreneurship programs,” and at the White House event in which these initiatives were announced, President Obama stated, “At a time that we’re facing challenges that no country can meet by itself — lifting people out of poverty, combating climate change, preventing the spread of disease — helping social entrepreneurs mobilize and organize brings more people together to find solutions.” By these two statements alone, we can glimpse the political agendas this $1 billion in investments will be funding. Companies that promise to combat climate change will receive priority despite being the least promising in the marketplace (think: Solyndra), and preferential treatment will be given to women entrepreneurs even if their ideas and execution are significantly less valuable than those of their male competitors.

This kind of government interference in venture capital distorts the efficiency of the marketplace. Money that could be invested to fund another entrepreneurial project will now go where the government wants it – something we’ve seen wreak havoc in the past, like during the housing bubble or the current student loan crisis. Venture capital should go towards funding things that there is, or could be, a market demand for, not towards what politicians think will further their agenda. The government taking money that could otherwise be used as individuals and firms see fit and giving it to those who they decide deserve it is the kind of central planning that leads to economic bubbles and crashes, not innovation and progress.

The White House’s interest in entrepreneurship is troubling on a greater ideological and cultural level as well. The President’s impulse to become involved in entrepreneurship is evidence of a pervasive “you didn’t build that” mentality. Entrepreneurs have long been the most individualist of the American population, taking risks on their own visions in order to change the landscape of American life, and the government wants to stake a claim on those successes. The current administration would like to look at entrepreneurs, brave enough to forge their own path, and say, “where would they be without us?”

This attitude was recently exemplified by White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, who said that more entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley need to work for the federal government, which, translated into reality, means she wants to turn innovators into bureaucrats. What Smith doesn’t understand is that entrepreneurs in private markets create positive change in the world – but put them in government, or involve the government in their work, and the best they can do is change nothing. The government becoming involved in entrepreneurship will not help bring about more entrepreneurship, but rather, manipulate entrepreneurs into doing what the government wants them to do.



Life without libraries would be unimaginably poorer

I understand the paen by Jeff Jacoby below.  My early life experience was similar.  But I think he is pissing into the wind.  Unforgiveable though it is, even university libraries these days are in fact throwing out books to make more room for computer terminals

I WAS A four-year-old in kindergarten the first time I remember reading in a library. The book was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, and I'm not sure which I found more captivating — the adventure of the hatchling that sets off to find its mother, or my own adventure of picking out a book from what seemed an endless array of enticing titles.

I was hooked early, on books and libraries both. To this day I can visualize precisely the shelves in the fiction section of my school's library, where I first discovered many of my favorite children's novels: The Twenty-One Balloons, Harriet the Spy, A Wrinkle in Time.

But the small library in my Cleveland-area day school was merely a gateway drug to the local public library a mile from my home. I spent innumerable hours there as a boy, addicted as much to the serendipitous pleasures of searching for a good book as to the satisfying relish of losing myself in its pages once I found one. My parents, raising five kids on a meager income, had little money to spare for buying books. But my library card was free, and I made heavy use of it.

The University Heights Library was my home away from home. Nothing was off-limits to a curious reader. From the Edward Eager magic books that fascinated me when I was little to Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, which held a different fascination as I grew older, it was all available. All I had to do was choose.

I can't imagine life without libraries. And by "libraries" I mean actual books — ink on paper — to be borrowed and shared and read. I don't mean bookless digital-content centers like San Antonio's $2.3 million BiblioTech, an all-electronic reading venue that looks, in Time magazine's description "like an orange-hued Apple store" outfitted with 500 e-readers, 48 computers, and 20 iPads and laptops. I would never discourage reading in any format, but rows of iMacs do not a library make. The ability to browse goes to the essence of the library experience, along with the egalitarian access that puts books in plain sight of all comers.

Happily, that experience is alive and well. As British journalist Alex Johnson documents in a wonderful new volume, Improbable Libraries, even in the digital age readers yearn for printed books, and librarians go to amazing and creative lengths to supply them.

Johnson highlights libraries that have opened in airports, train stations, and hotels, the better to serve readers on the move in this hypermobile era. In Santiago, Chile, there are lending libraries in the subways: The Bibliometro system lends 440,000 books a year from 20 underground stations, and has effectively become the largest public library in the country. A global "tiny library" movement has blossomed in the form of honor-system book nooks on street corners, at bus stops, and even in front yards of private homes. In Great Britain, hundreds of iconic red telephone boxes, no longer needed, have been repurposed into mini-lending libraries.

Smartphones and tablets have grown ubiquitous, but reading on screens is not the same — and for many people, not nearly as satisfying — as reading in print. Clicking links on an electronic device is efficient, but it can't replace the tactile engagement of wandering the stacks, pulling a book from the shelf, reading the dust jacket, flipping through its pages.

"A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life," wrote Henry Ward Beecher. The hunger for books knows no boundary. In Laos, the Big Brother Mouse project uses elephants to carry books to remote villages for children to borrow and exchange. The Mongolian Children's Mobile Library, using camels, does the same thing in the Gobi desert. So does Luis Soriano's Biblioburro library in rural Colombia —with donkeys.

Life without books and libraries in which to discover them would be unimaginably poorer. Improbable Libraries makes that point beautifully. Then again, if you're anything like me, you've known it since you were four.


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to  update.  Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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