Friday, October 31, 2014

Cat scratch fever

Our forthcoming house move is probably going to be upsetting for the cats. Unavoidable, but there it is. We are abandoning some old furniture as not worth hauling and will be getting, at the least, a new sofa. And we'd just as soon les chats would refrain from sharpening their claws on it.

My wife bought a scratching mat for them at Trader Joe's, of all places. I thought cats liked upright posts to keep their claws in condition, but this item is a horizontal box that lies on the floor; the interior is made of cardboard in a miniature honeycomb pattern.

Also supplied was a bag of catnip -- organic, if you please, and I hope gluten-free -- which the instructions said to place on the box to get the animals in the mood. We sprinkled some of the catnip as directed, then left to take some boxes of stuff to our soon-to-be residence.

Returning a few hours later, we found that Matisse had gone for the catnip in a big way. Not only did he apparently clean out the box, but found the bag with the remainder, knocked it off a shelf, and enjoyed another helping served on the floor.

Cosette exhibited more decorum. She does not seem to care to scratch the box, but it is now a favored location for her to sit and watch the world go by.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Birth of a non-nation: U.S. citizenship on sale! Buy now, (we'll) pay later!

Is there no limit to the perversions the Failed Messiah will sink to if it will help fundamentally transform the United States into a leftist, third world state?

From the Daily Caller:
President Barack Obama’s administration has decided to let the surrogate birth industry sell U.S. citizenship — and access to the U.S. welfare system — to foreign parents who never even set foot in the United States.

The fertility clinics will be able to pocket the profits, after granting access to American education, health, welfare and retirement services to the foreign children and the foreign parents. ...

The change means that a woman who is a U.S. citizen can be hired by a reproductive medical clinic to become pregnant overseas and to give birth in China, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else, and then effectively hand a U.S. passport to the baby.
It will probably be only a drop in the ocean of new U.S. "citizens," or at least occupants, our demented emperor plans once the election is past.

If the Grand Poo-Bah had a cell of integrity in his body, he'd acknowledge the policy publicly. And rightly be condemned as a wannabe dictator who gets his way by non-constitutional means. But it took a determined independent reporter to ferret out the plan. The mainstream media will no doubt cover for him, as they do for the rest of his sneaky tactics for population replacement of the country whose interests he supposedly represents.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Canada: Here's your multiculturalism in action

When you emerge from your flight at the Toronto airport, you are greeted by dozens of smiling faces. Not actual people, you dig, but photos gracing the walls -- of representatives of every conceivable race and previous nationality. We are the World!

If a new tribe is discovered in the back of beyond at the source of the source of the Amazon, the Canadian government will move time out of the way to get a photograph of a tribal member and make him a Canadian citizen before you can say Family of Man.

Will Canada's Establishment learn anything from the terrorist shootings inspired by Islam? Unlikely. Its response will be memorials of flowers and teddy bears for the victims. Start being sensible about immigration? Are you out of your mind?

Canada's proud new identity is non-identity. Those English-looking historic government buildings in Ottawa ... what an embarrassment.

Naturally, Canadian officialdom's post-mortem on the killings steers wide of any discussion of who is admitted to the country, or why Islam is welcome to spread its influence. The response is the usual menu of excuses and hanky-twisting. From the WaPo:
The man police said carried out the shooting here Wednesday arrived in the city less than three weeks earlier so that he could get a passport and fly to Syria.
However, in a sign of how difficult it can be to determine who may pose a threat, police said Thursday that Zehaf-Bibeau was not one of the roughly 90 “high-risk travelers” the authorities have been monitoring because they are suspected of wanting to join extremists fighting overseas.

“These are difficult threats to detect,” Bob Paulson, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the agency investigating the shooting, said during a briefing Thursday. “There is no way of knowing where or when such an attack could take place.”
Like every Western nation, Canada's answer to terrorism is to play a game of cat and mouse. Don't deny anyone admission because they are part of a primitive, aggressive socio-religious cult. That would be raaay-ciiiist. Once they arrive, try to keep an eye on a handful of them who look most suspicious. Yeah, that really works. Just ask Nathan Crillo. Oh, wait: you can't.
“We do have information now that suggests an association with some individuals who may have shared his radical views,” Paulson said. He later elaborated by saying that Zehaf-Bibeau’s e-mail was found in the hard drive of a person who has been charged with “a terrorism-related offense,” Paulson said.
But Paulson cautioned that this is a weak connection and that police still need to figure out what that means.
The Mountie commissioner is a little slow off the mark. Quite a few others, even in Ellis Island North, have figured out what it means.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Virginia Hospital Center did refuse to admit potential Ebola patient

The story about the woman who was sick at a Pentagon parking lot and suspected of being an Ebola victim has almost disappeared down the memory hole. It was all a mix-up. Forget it, Jake. It's Ebolatown.

I had, and still have, questions. Previously I asked, "Why was she not admitted to the Virginia Hospital Center ... and admitted to Fairfax Inova? Did VHC have no vacancies for potential Ebola patients?"

Today we learn, from a site called ARLnow (the ARL stands for Arlington county, I presume):
Virginia Hospital Center refused to admit the potential Ebola patient from the Pentagon on Friday, according to county officials, despite the hospital saying two weeks earlier that it was ready to handle such patients.

Responding to an inquiry from today, the Arlington County Fire Department confirmed reports that VHC refused the woman — who at the time was thought to potentially have the deadly Ebola virus — when medics brought her to the hospital. She never left the ambulance.
The explanation was also reported on the news at WMAL, Washington's conservative talk radio station.

If VHC was unable to deal effectively with an Ebola case, and Fairfax Inova was, I can't blame VHC for sending her on -- after all, meeting the patient's needs comes first. According to the ARLnow story, though: "Earlier this month ... VHC told TV station WUSA 9 that it was ready to deal with potential Ebola patients."

You also have to factor in that two weeks ago VHC was following the CDC protocols, which seem to have been inadequate in Dallas. Maybe VHC genuinely thought it was prepared earlier, and now believed it wasn't. On the other hand, it would have been a crushing blow to VHC's "business" to have a patient who turned out to have Ebola virus.

The article added:
Arlington County officials also have confirmed that the patient had not traveled to West Africa, as she allegedly first told authorities. In fact, she had not left the country at all, the county said, and had no contact with other potentially infected people.

“She had stated that she had traveled to Sierra Leone at the scene and did exhibit symptoms consistent with Ebola, so responders took all appropriate steps,” said Diana Sun, Arlington County’s Director of Communications. “There was an investigative process that went beyond Arlington. During the course of this, people close to the patient were interviewed and stated that she had not left the country. The patient herself, later in the afternoon, recanted her story and said that she had not left the country. When that last piece came in, public health officials felt confident in not pursuing” further testing for the Ebola virus.
Who investigated the woman's story? Who determined that the case was closed? Why would she claim to have been in Sierra Leone? She was reported to work at a Washington public relations agency, so while she may have been accustomed to being economical with the truth, probably she was not psychotic.

What disturbs me most is the apparent lack of curiosity on the part of the mainstream media. No one, except this independent ARLnow site, seems to have had any interest in following the story further, despite its puzzling aspects.

I'm not recommending we get hysterical over possible Ebola cases. But that's no reason to take them casually, either. If you think you can handle it, look at the photos of Ebola victims at Google Images. Too much for me; I closed the page as soon as I found the photo of the virus at the head of this posting.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pentagonal virus?

I've probably used up all my tokens for describing events as "surrealistic." Yet I can't come up with a better word for the flap over the Ebola virus.

Most recently, this:
Arlington County Fire Department and Fairfax County HAZMAT Teams are on the scene after a woman - alleged to have recently traveled from Liberia - fell ill and started vomiting in The Pentagon parking lot this morning. Arlington Public Health has activated its Emergency Operations Center to manage the incident. ...
"During the response, the individual allegedly indicated that she had recently visited western Africa. Out of an abundance of caution, all pedestrian and vehicular traffic was suspended around the South Parking lot, while Arlington County responded to the scene," Arlington officials said.

The situation started at around 9:10 a.m. when the woman started vomiting in the Pentagon Parking Lot around lanes 17-19, officials said.

Arlington County Fire Department transported the woman to the Virginia Hospital Center, but she did not exit the ambulance there. She was then taken to Fairfax Inova Hospital, officials said.
Why was she not admitted to the Virginia Hospital Center (where my wife and I have both been treated several times) and admitted to Fairfax Inova (my address for two weeks when I had a heart operation)? Did VHC have no vacancies for potential Ebola patients?

Now the Washington Post has awoken and found it was all a dream:
A woman who caused concern near the Pentagon and a four-hour quarantine on a bus in the District does not have Ebola, Arlington and Fairfax County officials confirmed on Friday. ...

At about 5 p.m., the two counties’ health departments said in a statement that she did not have the virus. The hospital said in a statement that she did not meet the criteria to be tested for Ebola.

Two officials with knowledge of the incident said they do not believe the woman has recently traveled out of the United States. Mary Curtis, an Arlington County spokeswoman, said that she does not know why county officials initially believed the patient had been in west Africa, but that the county’s health department no longer believes that to be the case.

Steve Gordon, the woman’s boss at the public relations firm Total Spectrum, said the woman was suffering a severe illness and he does not think she has ever left the country. 
While it may have been a false alarm, the story doesn't quite add up.

According to another news report (I just clicked the link and the story has disappeared): "The Pentagon said in a statement: " 'During the response, the individual indicated that she had recently visited Africa.' " What kind of illness makes one hallucinate having been to Africa? What was the source of the Pentagon's information?

Why did the Arlington County spokeswoman say she had no idea where the idea of the patient's having been in Africa came from? Could she have been unaware of the Pentagon statement? I wouldn't necessarily believe either the Pentagon or a county PR person, but this is an odd case of he-said, she-said. How would Arlington County so quickly determine the patient's recent whereabouts?

This incident came a day or two after the CDC director told a Congressman that "the administration fears a travel ban from affected countries would hurt fragile West African economies." Americans' health and well-being? Eh. President Obola knows his priorities.

If the woman who fell ill at the Pentagon was not a virus carrier, well, we'll just have to import them.
While the bipartisan voice grows to ban Ebola victims from entering the United States, a new report claims that President Obama is considering a plan to bring the world’s Ebola patients to the United States to be treated.

Judicial Watch, the conservative public watchdog group, says in a shocking report that the president is “actively formulating plans” to admit Ebola-infected non-citizens just to be treated. 
“Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the United States for treatment within the first days of diagnosis,” said the group.
Maybe you can chalk this up to another tactic in "our" president's plan for population replacement. Of course, the infectees might fail to cooperate, dying before they can vote Democrat. But surely their spouses, children, aunts, uncles, and grandparents will be welcome. It's only fair.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Metaphysically challenged

The Guardian, the U.K.'s guardian of leftist ideology, ran a story headlined "Do ghosts exist? Four theories on our fascination with apparitions."

The interviewees -- a priest, an Oxford lecturer, a Guardian writer, and a university psychologist -- say no, no, no, and no. Perish the thought that a genuine psychical researcher or two might have been consulted to liven up the discussion. The Left is gung-ho on diversity in everything except opinion.

Samples from each person quoted:
 ... In all cultures and times there is something here that won't go away; some fear that is legitimately being expressed – the continual return of the repressed. And the simple point that ghosts don't exist (obviously they don't, by the way) doesn't cut it. 

While they may be linked to the past, ghosts endure in and are renovated by the cultural imagination of the present.

Who knows what accounts for these apparitions; are they an emanation of longing, love, hope, need?  ... Perhaps we see ghosts because they help us to adjust, a hand reaching out to administer to the sudden, appalling wrench.

Not surprisingly perhaps, fantasy-prone personalities are much more likely to report having encountered a ghost. Our fear of our own mortality plays an important role in belief in ghosts. Most of us desperately want to believe in life after death – and the idea of ghosts, however scary, seems to offer support for such a notion.
It is obvious that these deep thinkers are unfamiliar with the scientific -- scientific -- literature of more than a century of research on the subject. They may be distinguished in their respective fields (what is the field of a Guardian writer? Queer theory?), but this story is equivalent to asking football coaches their views on nuclear power generation.

None of them appears to have the faintest idea that "apparitions" represent more than one type of phenomenon.

Hauntings are not the same as spirit return. The former, which generally consist of continual appearances of a figure at the same place, seem as best we can determine non-physical evidence left in a certain environment, often as the result of a traumatic incident there. These "ghosts" are not conscious (in our normal sense) persons or spirits.

Actual spirits do represent conscious entities on the Other Side who can sometimes communicate, directly or via noncorporeal beings called "controls," with psychically sensitive living individuals (mediums). No medium I have ever heard of calls them or thinks or them as "ghosts."

The reader comments are even more revealing of the current state of life in neo-Marxist cultures like Britain. Item:
What you have to realise is that ghosts are actually feminists fundamentally opposed to the rigid patriarchical boundaries created by men. Only in death do they see the light, and only in women do they seek solace and an escape from their past.

Either that, or all ghosts are the spirits of male university students still trying to inappropriately grope unavailable women, before returning to their spectral frat-house to chug ghost beer and sing ghost songs.
Of course ghosts exist. The Easter Bunny told me so himself.
And that's not all. Many of the comments take their erasers not only to "ghosts," but to God.
The evidence for the existence of ghosts is slim, however, the evidence of the existence of god is even slimmer.

The psychological explanation for why people believe in ghosts is no different from religion: some people are not prepared to accept that this life is all there is. That warrants compassion but not congratulations on their "wisdom".
The exciting news is that wilfully embracing a life free from the oppressive shadow of God the Father is wonderfully liberating.
My impression is that the U.K., living under CultMarx, is only the most obvious example of European countries where the majority of people have no spiritual beliefs. Centuries-old churches are converted into dance clubs or mosques. I still find it a little shocking. There has been nothing like this before in all history that I know of.

Sure, you can point to batty "religions" among primitive tribes (although I'll concede that shamans and such have sometimes been in touch with higher realms). The first two great Western civilizations, Greece and Rome, had a cast of Gods that may seem to us today like a cross between creative fantasy and soap opera. (Individual skeptics like Lucretius, Seneca, and Cicero were outliers). Christianity has been perverted at times into persecution of dissenters and sickening religious wars.

But a whole culture based purely on materialism and things that can be measured in the physical world?

That cannot prevail, leaving out as it does the dimensions of Truth that lie behind our limited and relative truths. What it will do to people's minds in the meantime, though, sends a chill wind through this world.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Hear, hear

I don't at the moment have anything interesting to say about Ebola, Obama the Failed Messiah, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, or Mexican drug gangs.  Those sorts of things tend to bring me down. On to pleasanter matters.

We speak now of sacred mysteries: namely, the magic of cost-effective treatments that make recorded sound more lifelike. Some are a royal road to sonic improvement.

Audiophiles, God bless 'em, will spend astonishing amounts of money on equipment upgrades. No criticism. If I had the kind of dough to buy $30,000 speaker sets, $10,000 preamps, $15,000 power amps, $8,000 DACs, etc., I might. Still, as the poet said, "I, being poor, have only my dreams."

Fortunately, we plebs can still magnify our listening pleasure with relatively inexpensive tweaks.

To get to the point, it is a product called Ultrabit Platinum-Plus (UBP-P). Its slogan is, "Hear the music, not just notes." For once, truth in advertising.

The photo shows what you get: a bottle of fluid, two microfiber pads and two microfiber cloths, and a handle that grips the pads. The lime green color of the pads and cloths shown here must be a previous model or Photoshopped; those that I received are yellow. This is not a step forward. Yellow should be, if not outright banned from the world, at least subject to strict licensing. Green, blue, almost anything except brown would be aesthetically far more pleasing.

Application of UBP-P is easy-peasy. One squirt onto the disc playing surface. A few swipes of the pad or cloth and the fluid seems to evaporate -- it's fun to watch it disappear -- but leaves a residue that somehow enhances the sound of the recording. The manufacturer says it works equally well on CDs or analog vinyl records. I'm a CD loyalist, unfollowing the fad, er, excuse me, the current taste among the cool heads for black discs, so I can only testify about UBP-P's canonization of silver discs.

I sympathize with the equipment reviewers for audiophile magazines who must continually struggle to find new ways of describing the sonic qualities of high-end components that cost a kidney. They fall into esoteric language that I often fail to understand: "The hue, attack, and extension of each note must be allowed to develop completely but not excessively," etc. Perhaps my listening ability has not developed completely. Or maybe it's excessive.

Anyway, trying to explain what treatment with UBP-P does is something of an exercise in frustration. The word I use constantly for the quality of an exceptionally good recording (whether tweaked or not) is simply, "presence." The music is in your listening space, lifelike. No doubt there are more sophisticated, scientific, or literary ways of putting it, but for me that's basically what it comes down to.

I've dosed about a hundred CDs with this product, and in about 90 cases I noticed more presence, often a lot more. Subjective? Sure, you can do all sorts of analytical lab work on a recording, but listening is nothing but subjective. Placebo effect? Maybe with a handful of discs, but I just can't write off the increased realism I perceive again and again.

Mind you, this tweak -- like equipment upgrades -- can't make bad recordings sound good. But for any CD recorded with decent microphone placement and mixing, the reward is palpable. And I don't think you have to have a state-of-the-art sound system to appreciate it (mine is satisfying, but hardly high-end). I am sometimes surprised at how striking a CD sounds in my car, which has a player and speakers courtesy of the original equipment manufacturer, and then I remember I gave that disc a squirt and wipe of UBP-P.

UBP-P appears to be the invention of George S. Lewis, who markets the stuff. For you suspicious minds, I do not know Mr. Lewis from Adam and vice versa, and I paid for the kit. Anyway, I take my hat off to him, or would if I liked wearing hats.