Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Police Murderer

Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke fired 16 bullets into black teenager Laquan McDonald, who was seen on video backing away. Officer Jason Van Dyke is being held, without bail, on charges of first degree murder.

The point I want to make is not that Jason Van Dyke is like most cops. He's not. My point is rather that true blue cop murderers like Jason Van Dyke — and it's not only Chicago that harbors them — almost get away with it. Cops protect cops. It's called the blue wall of silence. Prosecutors help cement that wall. So, too often, do mayors and other city officials.

And, until recently, there were no videos to penetrate the wall.

It took a year of legal action to pry the video away from the Chicago Police Department and make it public. According to the NY Times (11/25/15), "records show that the officer had been the subject of numerous complaints from residents, including allegations of using excessive force and making racial slurs."

That fits, if not defines, the profile of a police murderer: a history of abusive conduct, racial and otherwise, that ends in the sick result of police murder, which, these days, can now and again, be spotlighted on video.

Most cops are not like Jason Van Dyke. The ones who are usually get away with it. The news is that Chicago is prosecuting this case.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Unobtainium, got any?

In his expose, "The Doomsday Scam", C.J. Chivers  does a superb job of showing how the tenacity of magical thinking is nothing deterred by its attendant absurdity. His subject is a precious, albeit — fortunately — non-existent substance called "red mercury" which would allow those who possess it to construct a "neutron bomb small enough to fit in a sandwich-size paper bag."

As Chivers puts it:

To approach the subject of red mercury is to journey into a comic-book universe, a zone where the stubborn facts of science give way to unverifiable claims, fantasy and outright magic, and where villains pursuing the dark promise of a mysterious weapon could be rushing headlong to the end of the world.

The villains Chivers discusses belong to ISIS and its suppliers, as eager for a red mercury apocalypse as fantasy sports addicts are for mega-payouts.  

He writes:

When hopeful sellers were caught, substance in hand, it reliably turned out to be something else, sometimes a placebo of chuckle-worthy simplicity: ordinary mercury mixed with dye. The shadowy weaponeer’s little helper, it was the unobtainium of the post-Soviet world.

Unobtainium it is, and must will be. (You got any?)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Opposing ideas

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

Did he really say that? Where? "Gatsby?" Letters to Zelda?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Sharm el-Sheik etc.

The good news of the day, 11/7/15: China and Taiwan are not going to war any time soon.

A Chinese site called "The Wok" has suggested that China intends, instead, to surround Taiwan with a thousand islands that suddenly pop up out of nowhere, throw in some soy sauce, and gobble it.

Then there's the bad news: give up your plan to vacation in the divine Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheik. Moshe Dayan, a great fan that location, once intoned: better Sharm el-Sheik without peace than peace without Sharm el-Sheik!

Since Dayan was never famed for humor, there's some conjecture about whether he was kidding.

Besides, Dayan got to Sharm el-Sheik only by routing Egyptian armies in his path and
conquering the whole Sinai peninsula. That's no longer an option, since the Sinai is now infested with the worst sort of Islamist terrorist (as compared to the nicer sort). This leaves us with neither Sharm el-Sheik or peace. Which is a downer.

Finally, the truly weird news: Trump is hosting SNL tonight.

I'm sure he'll fire and get fired many times. They'll overuse the line, for sure. So what. It's still weird news.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Remembering Rabin

There was a mass rally in Tel Aviv this past Saturday (10/31/15), in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated twenty years ago.

President Obama sent a taped greeting. Former President Bill Clinton was there in person to address the crowd of 100,000 or so in attendance.