American Elephants


About the Racism Inherent in the Stars and Bars of the Confederate Battle Flag. by The Elephant's Child
June 24, 2015, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Freedom, History, Media Bias, The United States | Tags: , , ,

After the dreadful racist murders of nine black members of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, some member of the media called attention to the Confederate battle flag on the South Carolina Capitol grounds, and the media was off and running. Unable to adequately express their dismay, which I assume — they went for the flag.

The flag did not fly over the capitol, but over the Confederate memorial on the Capitol grounds. The conversation quickly moved from the nine murdered church members to the flag as a ‘symbol of racism.’ Governor Nikki Haley promptly said they would take down the flag to end any offense from its presence. It had been placed over the Confederate memorial by a Democrat governor and a Democrat legislature at the time of the Civil War Centennial and would take a 2/3 vote of the legislature to remove.

That wasn’t enough for some members of the media, who began advocating for the removal of Confederate flags everywhere. Retailers said they would no longer sell the flag. Then they went for the statues of Confederate heroes.  Monuments were defaced, names of streets and towns named after Confederate heroes should be changed, and some nitwit from CNN even suggested that the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C. should be torn down because Jefferson owned slaves.  Congratulations! You have managed to match the tactics of ISIS and the Taliban.

The Civil War is over. The South lost and surrendered unconditionally. History is a record of the past, things that actually happened. The Civil War, (The War Between the States), was a dreadful war, the most deadly ( 620,000 dead) in our history. It was a war over the Union and the South’s right to secede. It was a war over the institution of slavery — but to the South it was a war over their entire economy which depended on producing cotton for English textile mills. Sixty percent of American exports at the time were cotton for the mills of Britain — and some 440,000 workers in Britain were employed in the textile industry.

Slavery was a great evil, but it was the norm all over the world, and most people just accepted it as the way things were. The British killed the slave trade between Africa and the new world, and we followed suit. It is estimated that about 88 percent of the transatlantic slave trade went to the sugar islands and South America, and only about 12 percent came to America (per Wikipedia) Am I apologizing for slavery? Certainly not. It has taken a long time to get over the Civil War, a long time for the Southern economy to recover. and a long time for blacks to become full and valued participants in every segment of society. It’s all just a lot more complicated than those who are squawking about the symbolic racism inherent in any display of the Stars and Bars. Read some history. Please!



There’s a Time for Politics, and There’s a Time to Just Shut up. by The Elephant's Child

America is shocked and horrified at the massacre in the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. People reacted with sorrow and shame that such a thing should happen at a peaceful prayer meeting.

It’s hard to find the right words to express sorrow and offer comfort for there is no comfort. Republican candidates on the campaign trail quickly cancelled their scheduled events, Senator Lindsey Graham flew back to South Carolina.

President Barack Obama quickly politicized the event. “We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that, once again, innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” Obama said, adding “At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.” Um, tell that to Charlie Hebdo. Or perhaps the 2011 massacre at a summer camp for the youth division of the ruling Norwegian Labour Party. Anders Brevik massacred 69 young people. Just before that he had packed  a van with an explosive mixture of fertilizer and fuel oil. The explosion killed eight people. Germany has had more attacks on schools than we have. But don’t miss a chance to make a political point.

Hillary also called for gun control, while heading for a bunch of fundraisers. Obama, having made his point, headed out to California  for a $16,700 per person fundraiser in Pacific Palisades. Later he has another one in Beverly Hills. On Friday he has an interview with Marc Maron, then flies up to San Francisco for the U.S. Conference of Mayors followed by another couple of fundraisers. Obama frequently tells us how important empathy is to him.



It’s Cute, It Folds Up to Park in Your Garage, And It’s Amphibious! by The Elephant's Child
June 18, 2015, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, News, Science/Technology, Sports | Tags: , ,

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They have had years of delays, as is common when seeking approval for something from the federal government, but Icon Aircraft is finally getting approval for its A5 Light Sport amphibian aircraft. Futurists have been promising something like this as long as I can remember, usually a flying car. This one is a two-person airplane, which doesn’t just land on water as well as land, but it folds up for easy towing and garage parking.

The FAA issued an airworthiness certificate for this unusual plane, giving it’s official go-ahead for commercial production. Icon can now start delivering to the more than 1,250 customers who have already placed their orders.

The IconA5 is classified as a Light Sport Aircraft, a two-person plane meant to be easier to learn on than more traditional aircraft. It’s a new classification of 7F0A4457_IL-482x321Sport Pilots that can fly in lower altitude, uncongested airspace, during good weather. The appeal is that getting a license will take much less time and money than what is needed for a traditional private pilot license.

It has an Angle of Attack indicator, a feature usually on military aircraft that basically shows when a wing will stall. It also has spin-resistant design, and is one of the first planes to meet the FAA’s spin-resistance standards. An airplane specifically designed to mitigate those risks will attract attention. Full production will begin in September. The price tag is just under $200,000. Kind of cute.



Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airship — the Next Revolution. by The Elephant's Child

You learn something new every day. I had no idea they were working on this. I’ve long been familiar with dirigibles.  Used to drive by the hangar near the freeway just north of San Jose, fairly frequently. The working model pictured is 1/3 scale, so Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Airships — the real ones — would be huge.  Able to go to areas with little transportation and no highways or runways.  The possibilities seem endless. Fascinating.



Food Fetishes, Control Freaks, Food Faddists and Charlatans by The Elephant's Child
June 17, 2015, 6:53 am
Filed under: Junk Science, News, Politics, Regulation | Tags: , ,

The FDA is expected to issue a rule that will effectively ban the use of manmade trans-fat containing hydrogenated oils in all foods. There’s some controversy about the difference between the manmade variety — the trans-fats that occur naturally in beef and dairy products — and the trans fats in partially hydrogenated oils. The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 2 grams per day.

In any case, the FDA claims the ban could save around 7,000 lives per year. The agency has required food manufacturers to list the trans fat content of packaged foods since 2006. That’s helped reduce the amount of trans fats in the average American’s diet from far above to well below the American Heart Association recommendations.

So if Americans are already eating less trans fats than health experts recommend, why the push to ban them?

The ban comes as a result of a lawsuit by centenarian Dr. Fred Kummerow, a professor emeritus at the U.of Illinois who has been researching trans-fats for more than 50 years. His lawsuit forced the FDA to act. The agency will revoke its GRAS status, without that anyone wanting to sell foods containing partially hydrogenated oils would have to petition the FDA to demonstrate their safety. This follows the pattern of the ban on raw milk. And then there was the government’s complete reversal of the limits on dietary cholesterol. The recommendations to cut out the salt are on the ropes, because humans seem geared for more salt that authorities think is good for them. And the FDA seems to have caffeine needlessly in their crosshairs. Coffee just got a clean bill of health from health authorities.

The line “could save 7,000 lives per year” sounds exactly like the EPA. They regularly claim that X,000 number of children will not die from asthma because of the new regulation they are issuing. Physicians do not know the cause of asthma, which is probably why the EPA picked it.

The federal food police seem to be a hobbyhorse of mine. I have previously written five other posts about the federal government’s efforts to tell us what to eat, which surprised me. Getting rid of the committee and their guidelines seems to be high on my list. If you enter “dietary guidelines” in the search box just over Bob Hope’s head in the sidebar, you will find them all, if you are interested.

Food is a problem. There is too much information, much of it completely wrong. There is no benefit whatsoever to Organic food, unless it salves your soul to believe that you are not consuming nasty chemical fertilizers, which is nonsense. With “organic” you get cow manure.

Genetically modified organisms have been occurring naturally in crops for centuries. Some Asian countries that depend heavily on rice need Golden Rice, a GMO variety that has added a gene for beta carotene which will save thousands of children from blindness and death. The nitwits who are terrified (needlessly) about GMO foods and want their foods labeled to prove they were not genetically modified are simply ignorant about what genes are. Yet their protests make third world countries fearful and they won’t permit the GMO foods that would save the children.

Then there’s the “Food Babe” who catapulted to her ten minutes of fame by accusing Subway of using a “harmful” chemical in yoga mats to make its bread fluffy. She gets attention by fear mongering about “harmful chemicals” with little understanding of the science involved, nor of the simple idea that the dose makes the poison. And, of course there are all the little ads on many websites that proclaim that “just this one food…”



There Is No Deal. There Is No “Framework” Deal. There Is No Truth! by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times headline claimed “Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline. The Washington Post followed up with: “Iran agrees to nuclear restrictions in framework deal with world powers.” All hogwash. The “historic agreement” that President Obama is trying desperately to sell is pure fantasy. There has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that have led to international concern about Iran’s highly secret nuclear activities and have led to 13 years of diplomatic thrusts and talks and six mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.

What we have is a bunch of contradictory statements by the assorted  participants in the latest round of talks in Switzerland and an ignored deadline. Everybody is trying to make positive statements that spin things in a desirable manner without exceeding the boundaries of reality. So there was a 291 word joint statement in English by Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and the EU foreign policy leader Federica Mogherini who led the so-called P5+1 group of nations including the US in the negotiations.

Then there was the official Iranian text in 512 Persian words, and the text from US Secretary of State John Kerry who has put out a 1,318 word document which acts as if all is a done deal. The three different documents not only do not agree, they are frankly contradictory. The Mogherini and French texts are vague and not even good spin.

The Persian text carefully avoids any words that might in any way give the impression that anything has been agreed by the Iranian side or that the Islamic republic has offered any concessions whatsoever. The Iranian text is labelled as a press statement only. It opens insisting that it has no “legal aspect” and in intended only as a “guideline for drafting future accords.” Last April they were caught cheating on the amount of oil they were allowed to export under the relaxed sanctions.

The American text pretends to spell out “parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” and claims that key points have been “decided” — and what remains to be done is  to work out the “implementation details.” The U.S.version claims that Iran has agreed to certain restraints for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to …” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished. Sometimes the two texts are diametrically opposed.

The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue on the basis of a 10-year plan.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

The American text talks of “sanctions relief” while Iran claims that the sanctions would be  “immediately terminated.” Which is it? This is not a small matter. Remember that Obama is a fierce competitor and determined to build a legacy, and get his way.

In his Rose Garden statement, Obama said:

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations. It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased. And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

According to the Persians, they have agreed to no such thing. Iran has said clearly that Obama is lying. Iran has cheated on every single restriction ever placed on them. There have been 20 years of nuclear deal-breaking. In 2003, after Iran came clean, inspectors kept finding new and undeclared sites within Iran. In December they were caught shopping for components for its heavy-water reactor which can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Iran says plainly that they will not shut down a single facility, will not dismantle a single centrifuge, and will not ship it’s stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country. The UN inspections people say they really don’t know just what the Iranians have, and won’t know without being able to do surprise inspections.

But Obama wants you to know that the deal he has not made is a good one. He claimed that the only alternative to his deal was another ground war in the Middle East. Yet anyone who has been paying the slightest attention could come up with several alternatives. Obama is regarded as completely weak. The Arab nations have joined together with Israel to protest the deal he seems so determined on. He says “this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But he also says that ” Iran wants to join the community of nations” just at the moment that they are sponsoring genocide in Syria. He seems to think the Iranian people want to be part of that community, without any understanding that Iran is a dictatorial theocracy, and if the people dared to speak out, which they don’t, they would swiftly be executed.

Willful ignorance, and a frightening fantasy. When they shriek “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” — they actually mean it.



Happy Easter! by American Elephant
April 5, 2015, 10:06 am
Filed under: History, News | Tags: , , ,

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”




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