Saturday, May 29, 2010

Lest we forget


Memorial Day, 2010. Most of the country will enjoy a day off work, a family get-together, a picnic. Some will remember what the day is about. That doesn't include our president, but he has more important things on his mind than attending the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. He's in Chicago, getting together with the boys in the 'hood. What did you expect? He's not one of us. He Is the World, although the world's people who should fear us are laughing at us, and him.

Most of those who remember those we honor on Memorial Day will be thinking of Iraq and Afghanistan, as they should. But history looms above and behind us as well.

For instance, February and March 1945.

Iwo, by Richard Wheeler, was published in 1980. It describes the assault on Iwo Jima, the next-to-last in the series of Japanese-held islands that American strategists determined were necessary to take in the prelude to the expected invasion of Japan. Wheeler himself was with the Fifth Marine Division on Iwo -- a member, in fact, of Easy Company, some of whose soldiers were caught in AP photographer Joe Rosenthal's famous shot of the flag raising on Mount Suribachi.

As World War II fades into cozy nostalgia, we need from time to time to recall the grim reality. It took a month to capture Iwo. During that time, the island was unsecured, the Marines advancing with heavy losses, a few yards at a time.

Here are a few examples from many of what "unsecured" meant to the Marines whose job was to destroy the enemy, quoted from Wheeler:
Resistance to the landing activities had grown since [Easy Company] had come ashore. The beach was receiving steady artillery and mortar fire, and a chain of destruction was being forged at the water's edge. Useless landing vessels, trucks, jeeps, and other pieces of equipment were settling haphazardly into the surf-soaked sand. The scene included lifeless bodies, many badly torn, reddening the water than lapped about them.


A man on the beach in the 4th Division zone who watched one of the tanks start inland later related: "It was trying to edge over the first terrace when it was hit by a mortar that blew off its right tread. Marines began trying to get out of the turret. Another mortar lit right on the turret. The tank spread apart a little. All the Marines were killed."

Says [Gunnery Sergeant Hap] Mowrey: " ... We approached a bunker. Almost in a detached way I saw a yellow arm flick out and vanish. In an instant I felt the impact of the grenade. I was thrown off my feet, my helmet spun away, and my rifle and bayonet flew out of my hands. I got the feeling I had been cut in two. ... I had multiple wounds, chest and abdomen. I believe the chest cavity was rapidly filling with blood, because breathing became extremely difficult and I could no longer walk. Four men from the company volunteered to take me to an aid station. There were no stretchers, so a poncho was used."


Even as the Marines advanced to the north, they faced two miles stocked with the main forces of the Japanese commander, General Kuribayashi.
The terrain itself, described by an American newsman as looking "like hell with the fire out," was made up of barren plateaus, craggy hills, cliffs, twisting ravines and gullies, crumbling boulders, and struggling brushwood. The defenses numbered in the thousands, many of them mutually supporting. There were blockhouses, bunkers, pillboxes, caves, tunnels, trenches, mortar pits, rocket pits, machine gun nests, spider traps, dual-purpose antiaircraft positions, stationary tanks, antitank ditches, minefields, and booby traps.


It was all a deeply sobering business: trying to advance against an ingeniously concealed enemy, receiving fire not only from the front but from bypassed defenses on the flanks and even in the rear, suffering casualties and more casualties. If you remained unhurt you nevertheless knew you might take a savage blow at any second. You hoped fervently the wound would not be fatal. Huddling in a hole during a barrage, you tried to protect those parts you worried about most, holding an elbow across your face or positioning a rifle stock as a shield for your genitals. You began to realize that you would be willing to give up an arm or a leg for the privilege of staying alive.

Throughout the ordeal, you were obliged to watch the mutilation and destruction of others, often at a range so close that you were splashed with blood. While attacking at your side, your best friend might be disemboweled by a shell fragment, clutching at the cascading viscera and looking up at you with a plea for aid you could not give, his eyes soon glazing over and closing forever.
The Marines didn't want to die for us. They wanted to uphold the esprit de corps, win the war and go home. But we owe
the kind of Memorial Day that we can enjoy this year in part to them and many like them. Lest we forget.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Another blog posting; women, minorities hardest hit

It is astonishing how the lame-brain media never get the joke that they have become. They are still self-crowned Napoleons on St. Helena island, issuing orders to legions that have long since deserted them.

One of their favorite tropes, now so old it should be in a museum of journalism, is that whatever the subject, it's more of a problem or issue for women and minorities, those two sacred cows of the captive media. I'm sure you've heard the joke, itself now elderly: "Asteroid to destroy earth tomorrow; women, minorities hardest hit."

True to form, USA Today says:

'Don't ask, don't tell' affects women, minorities more

Does the left-lurching giant USA Today not have a single copyeditor who can grasp how foolish this repetitive, mindless tic makes the paper of stuck record sound?


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Washington has finally listened to me

On May 31, 2007, I wrote a posting headed:

Needed: a troop surge in Tucson

In today's New York Times:

Obama to Send up to 1,200 Troops to Border

Was it only a week ago that Barack "They Don't Have to Show You No Stinkin' ID" Kenyatta was embracing his pal Calderone? When Democrats in Congress gave El Jefe Mexicano standing applause when he spanked Arizona for resisting the spread of the Aztlan Empire? It's a good job Barack finally caught up with my 2007 entry or he might be in bigger trouble with "his" country than he is already.

Of course "up to" means up to, like maybe a few hundred National Guard quartermasters and jeep mechanics. Of course it's no more than a symbolic gesture that Kenyatta and his handlers hope will take some of the heat off them. ("The troops will be stationed in the four border states for a year, White House officials said. It is not certain when they will arrive, the officials said.")

I think U.S. patriots have won a round. This has got to be a root canal for the open borders advocates. Regardless of his motivations, a president has been forced to acknowledge that the Mexican Invasion is real and enough of a danger to send in the National Guard.

Back when I wrote the first posting, Generalissimo Jorge W. Bush and his ruling junta were still babbling about the Mexican colonists bringing family values, honest toil, and better tortillas to El Norte.

Things have gotten a lot worse since then. But to everyone who has stood fast against population replacement: congratulations. This isn't by any means a final victory, but it's a victory.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some say government's drug addiction needs less funding

From the Washington Post, May 24:

Some say government's new strategy to fight drug addiction needs more funding
Overall, the White House has asked Congress to increase spending next year by 3.5 percent on the broad spectrum of drug-control activities -- from curbing drugged driving and expanding drug courts to subsidizing opium and coca farmers in other countries to switch to legal crops. That increase is less than the 4.1 percent increase that President George W. Bush sought to combat drug abuse in 2002, the year his administration developed its first national drug-control strategy.

Moreover, even drug-policy experts who like the new plan's tone say they are disappointed that about two-thirds -- about the same proportion as under Bush -- of the $15.5 billion proposed for drug control in 2011 would be used to try to cut the supply of illegal drugs rather than to lessen people's desire for them.

"The rhetoric is different but the money is essentially the same," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., director of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

No, brother. The money is different but the rhetoric is essentially the same. The endless war on drugs is no more winnable the way we're fighting it than the endless war in Afghanistan. The "new strategy to fight drug addiction" is in fact the same old story that plays out daily in countless ways: money borrowed from China and squeezed out of productive citizens so bureaucrats can run midnight basketball schemes.


It's depressing to think that probably 90 percent of federal officials— not just elected ones, but the vast behind-the-scenes legions of administrative drones — could read that article and see nothing wrong with it, or even questionable.

What, am I in favor of drug addiction?

No, I want to cure it. The country's biggest drug addict is the United States government, hooked on debt. This is one blue ribbon junkie, all right. The Lords of Washington don't have to burglarize your house to feed their habit. They can issue more Treasury bills (in other words, IOUs). They can print as much money as they like. (With modern technology, I understand, they don't actually have to print anything. It's all done with a few computer keystrokes.) They can tax you in more ways than you could dream of. Actually you might prefer a burglary; you can insure against that. You can't insure against an out-of-control government.


But what's wrong here is more than just a full employment scheme for state-supported parasites, a political plum for left-voting interest groups, or even money thrown away on fantasy programs ("the plan would pay for experiments in which a network of communities would try to apply the best research evidence to prevent teenagers from starting to use drugs"). It even goes beyond the folly of spending for frivolous projects when the national government is heading for bankruptcy.

There's more.


Psychotherapists have a term: "learned helplessness." Some people, for one reason or another, come to disbelieve they can do anything good for themselves without an enabler: a mate, friend, relative, therapist, protector.

Drug "education" and research on drugs to treat drug addiction sell helplessness. They are self-sabotaging: they send the message to the drug user that addiction is primarily someone else's problem, viz., the state's, and hope lies in state intervention.


Recovering from hard drug addiction is more likely with medical and psychological therapy. While I don't think anyone has a "right" to such help, a humane society should make the effort to provide it. But before they can be helped, addicts need motivation from within. They need to know that ultimately, the responsibility is theirs. And that understanding is hard to summon up in an environment where their country's government is a terrible role model — it can't wean itself from the kick of spending money it doesn't have. And teaches, by example, that people are slaves to their own foolish behavior.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Vortexas Rangers


One place I spent some time in on my recent visit to Arizona doesn't seem to be obsessing about the Mexican reconquista. Maybe Sedona doesn't much identify itself with Arizona, or the United States. In some cases, it doesn't identify itself with this world.

Sedona -- about an hour and a half's drive northwest of Phoenix -- has two claims to fame. The first is its visual richness: fantastically shaped, huge cliffs and buttes in layered colors, from brick red to somber gray to luminous. Throw in Oak Creek and you've got cracking scenery almost everywhere you look.


Unsurprisingly, Sedona first attracted visual artists as residents. Max Ernst, one of the two or three greatest surrealist painters, made the town his home in the 1940s.

The second wave of migrants to Sedona, as residents and visitors, came with "New Age" believers. It was discovered that, they say, the area has a half-dozen or so "vortexes" where lines of spiritual energy coalesce and create particularly strong psychic and healing powers. And that's the aspect of Sedona that's most evident nowadays.


Like most towns that have a special attraction for people, Sedona has been developed into a kind of theme park. Vortex World. While the area's natural beauty is certainly part of its allure and helps keep motels and resorts
afloat, it's the psychic business that forms the town's economic backbone.

On the two main commercial highway strips, the standard T-shirt and souvenir shops are almost outnumbered by outlets for psychic reading and healing, crystals, massage, vortex tours in jeeps, yoga centers, a few New Age bookstores, rounded out with tattoo parlors. Other psychics work from their homes. The sheer proliferation of these businesses must make for some jolly intense competition. How do they all pay the rent? Does everyone who lives or passes through Sedona receive wisdom from Illuminated Masters, get healed, get a massage, and add a tattoo daily?

The psychic chamber of commerce distributes maps showing the location of the vortexes. My wife and I drove up Airport Road to find one of them, but oddly, no sign that we could find marked the exact location. I believe that is national forest land, and the government can't quite bring itself to acknowledge the Vortexas Rangers.


For someone
-- such as your blogger -- who accepts the reality of psychic phenomena, including clairvoyance, mediumship, and psychic healing the spectacle presented by the psychic industry in Sedona gives rise to mixed feelings.

While earnest merchandising of "spiritual" goods and services can seem a little crass, there is no reason why crystals with various declared benefits or, for that matter, healing shouldn't cost. Spirituality + capitalism = New Age. Or perhaps, spirituality + New Age = capitalism.


A more serious concern, in my view, is the trendiness of the psychic trade. How many providers are just trying to cash in on the boom? If we limit the discussion to people who claim psychic powers, my experience in Sedona and elsewhere tells me that almost all are sincere in believing that their unusual talents are for real.

It also tells me that some are fooling themselves, and that most find that their mediumship and healing abilities come and go unpredictably. When they're hot, they're hot; not, not. Gamblers and baseball players know when they're on and when they're in a slump. But a baseball player who scores a hit one out of three times is considered an excellent team member. No one accuses him of being a fraud for striking out on two-thirds of his visits to the plate.


And when the mental gateways to the higher spiritual planes steadfastly refuse to open, does a psychic hand the client back the money and say, "Sorry, my guides have taken the day off"? If any ever did, it would be nearly unique. No, they just wing it.

Ever since the fad for spiritualism in the 19th century, there has been heated debate about whether psychics are for real or faking it. But most are both.

Arthur Koestler, the novelist who devoted the latter part of his life to psychical research, wrote:
When I was hunting gurus in India, I came back enriched with one insight. It was: "Never ask whether 'that holy man' is a charlatan or really holy. Just ask to what extent he is a charlatan and to what extent holy. Never apply an all-or-nothing criterion."

Showmanship comes in the moment you get into the eye of the public. Exposed to the public eye of unlimited numbers of followers, you have to apply some showmanship. On bad days, when nothing works, you would be superhuman if your would not resort to 'corriger la fortune' by a few tricks. (Parapsychology Review, May-June 1973.)
When consulting psychic workers in Sedona or anywhere, it is wise to keep in mind that:

1. Some are more talented than others. There is no foolproof way to determine which is which in advance.

2. Even the best are inconsistent.

3. Keep an open mind.
Record the session if you can. Sometimes information you receive via a medium that seems to make no sense or be wrong will be valuable later. My experience with healing is limited -- I did have one session in Sedona -- but I'd say remember this: the healing takes place with subtle energies and works on the non-physical or "etheric" body that your physical body manifests on the material plane. The results might not be dramatic or immediate.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Orderly conduct

With a presidential memorandum signed in the Rose Garden, Obama also ordered federal agencies that have already brought out new standards for cars and light trucks for the 2012-2016 model years to begin work on even stronger rules for 2017 and beyond.

Associated Press, May 21


What's with this "Obama ordered" phrase that seems to be popping up more and more frequently?

What is a presidential memorandum and what gives Barack "Kingfish" Obama the power to tell the government to get busy writing "even stronger rules"?

Do federal agencies now exist only to carry out diktats from the Holy Office at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

We are entering a dark forest, and the light is seeping from the sky.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Out of Arizona

Back in Tucson for the flight home tomorrow morning.

I can't say enough about the scenery in and around Sedona. I will probably say too much about the sociology of Sodona, but that will have to wait for a later posting.

The drive from Sedona to Tucson was pleasant enough, especially the stop for lunch at T. Cook's in the Royal Palms resort near Scottsdale. I don't mean to turn this into a travelogue, but I heartily recommend you try T. Cook's if you're in the vicinity. You'll thank me for it.

We're at a Holiday Inn near the airport, and while there was no need to drive through central Tucson to get here, I wanted to see some of the old neighborhoods I remembered.

The changes since I lived in Tucson are disagreeable. When I first visited in the early '90s, and even when I called it home later, Tucson seemed to be an exception to the standard development process of American cities, namely, flight to the suburbs. Many parts of the older, central area remained solidly middle class, even affluent in the north toward the foothills. Today I saw evidence typical of urban "hollowing out" -- the inner residential neighborhoods have become shabbier and poorer-looking, not to mention more hispanic.

The trend is evident: people who can afford it are settling in or moving out to the new "edge city" developments and the ritzy foothills. I don't blame them and would do the same. Who wants to live amid growing signs of an underclass and probably crime?

Do I blame Mexicanization? Yes, I blame Mexicanization.

No other significant causal factor exists. Central Tucson isn't -- well, wasn't -- a slum. Lots of the houses have character, and the desert and tropical landscaping leaves nothing to be desired. The cacti, date palms, oleander, bougainvillea, banana plants, palo verde trees and the rest always used to lift my spirits, as did the mountains and the big sky. Other than open borders, there was no reason for whites and long-established Mexican families to head for the hills.

How much longer can we Americans retreat from social devolution?

Arizona has already ceded so much, thwarted by a central government and ruling class that wants a servile, alien population dependent on government handouts.

As you may have heard, Arizona is trying for a game changer. Unlike what is only a slogan for Barack Kenyatta and his goon squad, this change is utterly real and necessary for Arizona and ultimately for what is left of the true spirit of the United States of America.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Uninvited guests

Contains an update following the main posting.

Alien-in-chief Obama has two goals at the moment, says the AP.
WASHINGTON - One goal of President Barack Obama's state dinner Wednesday will be to make Mexican President Felipe Calderon feel like the man of the hour. Another will be to keep uninvited guests from crashing the party.
When wasn't the Mexican president the man of the hour in the White House? Not any time in the present and past two administrations.

And the Big Man will of course want to keep the uninvited out. Too bad for all of us he's only concerned about keeping uninvited guests away from his Very Exclusive Party.

As to the country's uninvited guests, it's the more the merrier if you ask him. Which is why Arizona, from where I'm writing, has found it necessary to do the job the non-American won't do.


Update 6:49 PM Arizona Mountain Time (Zulu minus 8):

Even in Sedona, where many a visiting car bears California license plates, I have seen no Obama bumper stickers. I am gobsmacked.

The only conversation in which the Mexican Invasion came up, with a store owner in the Tlaquepaque Village mall (designed to look like a Mexican town!), produced the usual results. He was diplomatic at first, but once he understood that he could speak his mind and not lose a sale, he vehemently expressed himself in favor of the Arizona law enforcing the phantom federal law against illegal immigration.

The contrast between Arizona and the area where I live is hard for me to get my head around. It's exhilarating to be where Obama worship isn't the default position.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

From Sedona

Drove around Prescott this morning -- attractive town. Then on the serpentine road through the mountains to Jerome and Sedona.

This entire day, I have not seen one single car with an Obama sticker to mar the scenery.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From Tucson

I've been pretty hard at work most of the time since arriving (although the work part of the trip is now over), but a few impressions are worth recording.

As always, the scenery blows my mind. The mountain ridges, foothills, intense blue sky, scarlet stars of bougainvillea flowers clinging to adobe-hued walls, palo verde trees whose branches are tipped with cadmium yellow blossoms, saguaro cacti signaling mysterious messages with their arms, quail marching across lawns, white-winged doves ...

Magic. But there are disturbing signs. On the ride from the airport, the southwest side looks seedier than I remember it. Clearly there is severe poverty around. But also a Third World aura: big houses in the foothills, gated "communities," lots of high-end cars. (White is the fashionable color.) The contrast between rich and poor has gotten more drastic.

One topic is on everyone's mind. You don't have to go far out of your way to strike up a conversation about it.

The Border.

Everyone I have talked with believes that Mexican colonization and drug smuggling are out of control. My wife and I just came back from dinner at the Village Inn, a casual restaurant. The people in the booth behind me were going on about the leaky border. You hear the usual stories. "Immigrants" who want everything on their terms, including their language. Schools overwhelmed by anchor babies. Children kidnapped and held for ransom in Phoenix. Delinquents sans frontieres who get crocked to the eyeballs on cerveza and tequila shots, want their half of the road in the middle, and have an unsettling habit of turning themselves and various innocents in other cars into shredded flesh.

The open talk is new in my experience. When I lived here from 1999 till 2002, Anglos may have thought the same things, may have expressed them but only among close friends. Now the inhibition is gone. Anglos -- including a concierge at the fancy hotel where my seminar was held and a pharmacist in a drug store where my wife got a prescription refill -- have been up front about the crisis and their anger over the federal government's refusal for decades to do anything about it.

It's hard to say how this is going to play out. But some emotional dam has burst and feelings long held in check are in the open. It's past the point of being a question of political philosophy. Arizonans are afraid. Afraid that their beautiful state and neighborhoods are falling victim to reconquista. Afraid for their safety. Someone put up a billboard by the highway as a memorial to a policeman who was killed by an illegal.

But I perceive more than fear. I sense determination, a feeling that it's now or never. Time to take a stand, whatever the cost, or it will be too late.

I've concluded more than one conversation in Arizona these past few days with the words:

"The Mexican Invasion stops here. And it stops now."

I don't know if I believe it. But I've received in return wholehearted agreement.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

On the road again


I'm heading off tomorrow to work at my employer's seminar in Arizona (!), followed by a few days of vacation in the Red Rocks country. There will probably be no further posting until Friday the 14th.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Sanctuary city calls immigration agents for help

Oooh ee, oooh ee baby, let me take you on a Santa Cruz.

Even in the upside-down, inside-out world of pathological multi-culturalism, Santa Cruz, California has earned itself a special distinction.

Santa Cruz, the Molten State's mother church of latter-day hippies and reflexively leftist-ultraGreen-race replacement politics, is a "sanctuary city."

Santa Cruz first came out against immigration raids in the early 1980s, Rotkin said, after about 20 federal agents raided Beach Flats at once.

"After that the city passed a resolution that said we encourage the immigration agents to stay out of Santa Cruz, we don't appreciate the role that they play in terrorizing the Latino neighborhood," Rotkin said.

The City Council in 2007 reaffirmed that position after immigration officers arrested 107 people in Santa Cruz, Watsonville and Hollister the previous year. Santa Cruz police do not keep statistics on the number of illegal residents in the city, or if those they arrest are here legally, said department spokesman Zach Friend.

As an aside: it's interesting how many government agencies fail to keep statistics about things they want to keep inside the family. I'll bet the Santa Cruz police department could, if they felt like it, tell you to the hour how much leave has accrued to each of its officers, or to the penny the cost for each form a cop fills out after making a traffic stop.

Back to Santa Cruz: The Dementia Story. Are you ready for this?

SANTA CRUZ - Besieged by unsolved gang violence, Santa Cruz police turned to federal immigration agents for help this week.

Beginning Tuesday, a team of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are working with the Police Department to investigate gang crime in the city, Santa Cruz Police Chief Howard Skerry announced Wednesday.

"We've reached a point where I, as chief, will call in every available resource," Skerry said. "The whole focus of this is to find out who committed these crimes and bring them to justice." Carl Reimer, 19, died April 17 after being shot three times by suspected gang members in a Westside park area. No arrests have been made. There also are outstanding suspects in three other gang-related homicides in the city dating back to October.

I almost feel sorry for Chief Skerry. It must be humiliating in some rarely visited corner of his soul to know that he owes his job to being an accomplice to a locality giving sanctuary to criminals. And then, to compound his misery, having to call in the hated immigration enforcement agents.

"I'm looking to solve crime, so they're coming in and they're going to help me," Skerry said.

You're looking to solve crime? You, representing the forces of law in a city that has openly and systematically provided a haven for illegals since 1982?

This country, or the portion of it that is Loony Left occupied territory, specializes in self-inflicted wounds. We invite Muslims to obtain HB-1 visas and become freshly minted U.S. citizens, then express shock and incomprehension when they shoot our soldiers and try to decompose Times Square. Santa Cruz indulges itself in moral posturing about immigration, but when immigrant gangs terminate some of its residents, it seeks help from the immigration control agency it has sneered at for longer than the lifespans of most of the U.C. students who provide local color.

What is wrong with us? Why must we again and again invite trouble and then wait for it to happen before proclaiming that we will "bring to justice" the perps? The answer, of course, is in the first nine of the 10 liberal commandments: "Thou shalt not discriminate, even when a drop of common sense would tell you that some people and groups are far more likely to create mayhem than others." (The 10th commandment: "When members of a protected group commit a crime, thou shalt insist it was inexplicable and random, or the work of right-wing extremists.")


Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Uh-oh. Another man-caused disaster.

Housing crisis victim

"Times Square bombing suspect's life had unraveled," says the totally unravelled Associated Press in one of its typical quotation marks news quotation marks stories.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Not long ago, Faisal Shahzad had a pretty enviable life: He became an American citizen after emigrating from Pakistan, where he came from a wealthy family. He earned an MBA. He had a well-educated wife and two kids and owned a house in a middle-class Connecticut suburb.
Notice the total passivity of the United States, the total command of Shahzad. "He became an American citizen after emigrating from Pakistan." It sounds like anyone in Pakistan who's got the bucks can bop to the airport, re-terrestrialize at JFK International, collect an HB-1 visa after a few years as a "student," and be granted U.S. citizenship whenever the spirit moves him. Hello, middle class suburb. "I'm Faisal. This is my well-educated wife. These are my well-raised children."
In the past couple of years, though, his life seemed to unravel: He left a job at a global marketing firm he'd held for three years, lost his home to foreclosure and moved into an apartment in an impoverished neighborhood in Bridgeport.
Poor Faisal and his well-educated wife. The housing mortgage crisis sent him bonkers, just like all those Americans the length and breadth of the land who lost their homes and drove into the central city to set off explosions. The country he condescended to call his own (hands up, who thinks he kept his Pakistani citizenship as well?) didn't do enough for him. He'd show them.
And last weekend, authorities say, he drove an SUV loaded with explosives into Times Square intent on blowing it up. … The SUV Shahzad is accused of driving into Times Square contained a metal rifle cabinet that was packed with fertilizer, but police bomb experts believe it wasn't a type volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.
"Shahzad was granted an H1-B visa for skilled workers in 2002, according to the official who spoke to the AP." Surely he owed his visa to the fact that the United States was experiencing a severe shortage of junior financial analysts at the time. Fortunately for the rest of us, unfortunately for him, bomb making wasn't his area of expertise.

So this time we can chalk up another victory for good luck. The Official Commentariat will wring its hands over a nice young man with a well-educated ("like her husband" — AP) wife who "listed her passions as 'fashion, shoes, bags, shopping!! And of course, Faisal.' " Of course. Maybe Faisal wasn't too keen on being categorized with fashion, shoes, etc. among his well-educated wife's passions. Anyway, he was too ashamed to go to bankruptcy court, so he went back to Pakistan for remedial terrorist training.

Terrorist! Yes, I said it! (Mark Levin's verbal trademark has got into my head.)

Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. Muslim terrorist. … Are you listening, Janet Napolitano? No, I didn't think so.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

After you've gone


The founders of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882 hoped that it would transform the question of survival of death. What had formerly been the province of religion and philosophy was to yield its secrets to science.

If they were to look back today at the 128 years since then, they might be disappointed. There has been a good deal of research, some of it of very high quality, but it remains on the fringe of conventional science. Most scientists -- most people, actually, in the Western world -- are indifferent or skeptical.

With a handful of exceptions, psychical research (or "parapsychology," as its academic practitioners prefer to call it because it sounds more respectable) is conspicuously invisible in universities and other institutions. Even many parapsychologists shy away from survival research as a poor career choice. Teaching jobs and grants are thin on the ground. Such is the fruit of the prevailing materialist world view.


Nevertheless, while they occupy an orbit distant from Groupthink Central, some determined scientists as well as individuals who understand experimental protocols continue to try to accumulate and understand evidence for personal survival of death. Among them is psychologist David Fontana, author of
Is There an Afterlife?

A little background: Fontana is a past president of the Society for Psychical Research and has been active in the organization for decades. He teaches at Cardiff University in Wales and Liverpool John Moores University and was one of the three investigators of the remarkable
Scole sessions. (I was introduced to him at an SPR conference, but unfortunately there was no occasion to converse, and we only exchanged pleasantries.)

His book is the single best overview of survival research, and phenomena purporting to indicate survival, that I've read. It calmly surveys a great body of evidence, and analyzes it in what seems to me an eminently fair way. He recognizes that there is good evidence and dodgy evidence, and a great deal whose validity can't be determined. He considers the criticisms of the research and the quality of the reporting, and often regrets that -- especially in older cases -- more care was not taken to confirm the stories of witnesses, or that present-day recording technology was unavailable.
(Nevertheless, if you nurse an idea that early psychical researchers were gullible, this book will convince you otherwise; Fontana goes to great lengths to describe the strict precautions many took against possible cheating.)


The book touches on almost every type of paranormal phenomena: telepathy, clairvoyance, poltergeists, apparitions, near-death experiences, out-of-the-body experiences, instrumental transcommunication (electronic voice phenomena and the like) and, not least, the most controversial: mediumship. Not all of these can be claimed as evidence of life after death, but he discusses them because they are often suggested as alternative explanations for what seems to be communication from discarnate spirits.

For instance, if a medium supplies information that only you and a deceased relative or friend knows about, does that prove the medium is forwarding a message from the beyond? Maybe not. The alternative explanation is that telepathy or clairvoyance, for which there is overwhelming laboratory evidence, is responsible. The medium could be picking it up from your mind or from physical clues lying around, such as the deceased's diary.

Fontana carefully weighs the so-called "super ESP theory," which posits that all supposed post-mortem communication, as well as apparitions of the dead and numerous other paranormal experiences, are caused by living minds.
One problem with the super-ESP theory is that it is, at least theoretically, unfalsifiable. If you assume living minds can do anything, then even the most astonishing spirit manifestations can be explained that way. Another problem with it is that there is no evidence that the living can produce many extraordinary phenomena that have been reported countless times by highly reputable witnesses. (Fontana gives some eyewitness testimony of his own, particularly about his experience of a poltergeist and of the Scole experiment, but in a matter-of-fact style, just more data points.)


The evidence he assembles and discusses is intended to provide ample material for the reader's own judgment. Despite the length of the book (close to 500 pages), I sense at times that he is frustrated at not being able to go into even more detail or offer yet more examples because of space limitations. There is a good reference list, although it has one problem I'll get to presently.

Is There an Afterlife?
has a wrap-up chapter on a particularly interesting subject: according to the evidence from alleged spirit communicators, NDEs, and other sources, what is the afterlife like? Some of its commonly reported characteristics, which would seem far-fetched if placed at the book's front end, are likely to be more credible after Fontana's exploration of more than a century's psychical research.

Is there proof that we continue in a spirit dimension (or dimensions) after we die? No — but ask yourself what would constitute objective proof. It is hard to imagine what that might be … although many who have had NDEs consider it a fact of personal experience. For the rest of us, answers must derive from a consideration of the entire body of evidence as a whole, not individual bits. Fontana's achievement is that he offers both the raw material and his own non-dogmatic assessments to help you reach a reasonable tentative conclusion.


Unfortunately, his manuscript's afterlife has been rubbished by the publisher, from its cheesy cover illustration to the editing, if you can call it that. O-books Publishing is based in the U.K., but they had someone (mostly) change British spelling variants into American ones. Sometimes the text uses American style double quotation marks, sometimes British 'inverted commas.'

I don't think I have ever encountered a book from a supposedly reputable trade publisher with so many misspellings, typos, and syntactical errors. Possibly Fontana was responsible for some of them, but I doubt very much he would spell the name of Alan Gauld, his colleague for decades (and himself the author of another good survival study) as "Alan Gould." Many condensed in-text references, for example "Groff 1975" -- that should probably be "Grof" for Stanislav Grof -- are not matched by corresponding full entries in the reference section.

The back cover, which Fontana certainly didn't write, has a blurb from "Professor William Braud, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Paol Altum, California." That's Palo Alto to you, mates, although you spelled California right, perhaps by accident.
It is regrettable that such an able and thorough analysis of the evidence for and against survival has been cheapened by a publisher -- printer would be a more apt term -- that apparently doesn't care about production quality.

But I belong to the writer-editor tribe, so maybe others won't be so fussed about such things. In any case, I recommend Is There an Afterlife? to anyone who has pondered the question posed by the title.


Illegals invade U.S. Army intelligence center

U.S. government health and safety warning. For illegals.

A man on the scene in southern Arizona's Cochise County notes that not only is the area awash in Mexican border jumpers -- so what else is new? -- but that los illegals are a presence inside Fort Huachuca, the training camp for U.S. Army intelligence.
Working on a U.S. Army fort, one would think we were fairly secure from these threats. Just not true. Reading the Fort Huachuca newspaper one morning, I noticed an interesting part of the "community" page. It asked for volunteers to assist in cleaning up "dumps" on posts where the illegals would drop their supplies used to cross the border and change clothing. They do this in order to blend in and not look like they just spent a day or two crossing the border in the dust and heat of southern Arizona. The most frightening part of this is that Fort Huachuca is the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, where the Army trains its intelligence soldiers -- analysts, interrogators, radio intercept specialists, and counterintelligence agents -- for operations overseas. If we can't secure the fort we use to train our intelligence soldiers, how can we secure anything else?
Anyone afraid to look the truth in the face would do well to read the comments to the article. A few excerpts:

"Mr. Woodard, thank you for an extremely troubling but informative article, and your army service. You have no doubt heard of the work of Bill Lind, on what he calls "fourth generation warfare" or 4GW. Lind has long maintained that the uncontrolled Mexican-U.S. border is a 4GW battle zone, and that the drug cartels and illegals constitute a de facto invasion of our southern states. That is, we must start thinking of our border with Mexico as a national security problem, and not simply as a law enforcement or immigration matter. The Mexican government is exporting social chaos and violence north of the border, and we are doing little to stop it."

"Some politicians, talking heads, and celebrities who are surrounded with "yes people" have now turned to you and other citizens of AZ , telling you how you should think and speak, and educating (indoctrinating) all of you dumb hillbillies. Yes, because those celebs have shot films in other countries, they now believe themselves all-knowing, all-seeing, Europeanized and elite. These liberal geniuses who have their own armed bodyguards, limos and drivers, mansions behind massive gates (some with panic rooms), and they generally avoid the great unwashed unless it's a photo op for them. They have shown their own stupidity and revealed them for the fools that they are in putting down AZ and its fine people. Should they find themselves in the midst of just one short moment of violence that the people of AZ live with on a daily basis, I believe their lack of ability in reacting quickly and decisively would in seconds reveal their cowardice."

"The politicians do not have any sympathy for the American citizens. They only see an illegal alien as a vote for themselves."

"Perhaps the most troubling part of the article was the blurb placed at the end of it: 'He carries a pistol even in his own house in order to be prepared to defend his family whenever necessary.' The Wild West is back."

"In traditional political philosophy, a government which refuses to defend the people from invasion is no longer a legitimate or real government. That falls then on the lesser magistrates. That means that Arizona is doing the right thing. Since we don't have the votes to impeach the regime, it falls to the several States to uphold the laws of the united States, including defending the borders with the State militia a.k.a. national guard, and upholding and defending the Constitution."

Mexico is a failed state. It cannot protect its citizens -- cannot protect even its police -- from the narcotics gangs' civil wars and assassinations. It encourages its people to invade the United States. Arizonans are on the sharp end of the Mexican Invasion. They live in occupied territory: occupied by Third World colonizers and by the government of the United States.

So Beverly Hills is going to "boycott" Arizona? That's a game both sides can play. Start by having nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo celebrations, virtually unheard of in this country before the federal government's population replacement campaign began in earnest. And let the bars and clubs promoting Cinco de Mayo know why they won't be getting your business.