Friday, 9 December 2011


A couple of years ago, I stumbled across this Muslim advice column.  It was run by some Muslim cleric in Europe who mostly took questions from his audience, and prounced how Muhammad would handle a certain problem.

Typically, some Yuhab dude would ask what he should do when his twin sisters are wearing bright-colored shoes.  The cleric did his "Marshall Dylan" type stance....try to reinforce the general rules of simple colors.  Then some guy from France asked what he should do when he had funny feelings when showered with the guys after a soccer game.  The cleric would come back and suggest that it would be better if he went straight home after the game and avoided the locker room.

For a month or two, I hung out weekly reading this advice.  It was stuff like Ann Landers, and frankly, I can understand why some naive guys needed advice like this.  You can't run off to Dad or Mom to ask stupid questions like this.  And you can't talk about this kind of stuff with your cousin.

This week, someone happened to run into another cleric column, where there was this bit of advice given. The advice was: Islamic women ought to stay away from bananas, zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, and phallic-shaped vegetables.  For those of you from Boaz, phallic-shapped means kinda like the shape of a man's special tool.  The reason given for this advice?  Well....if an Islamic woman saw these items....they might suddenly think of sexual things.

Naturally, this advice got out today, and tens of millions of folks read it.  Some folks who are moderate Islamic-types....kinda got offended.  It's suggesting that you need to dump bananas, which is a pretty serious thing, if you think about it.

Now, I grew up in Bama, and I could actually imagine advice like this being given out via Baptist ministers I had around in the 1970s.  Women shouldn't mow grass with push-mowers, because of the vibration they give.  Women ought not sit in the middle of a pick-up which has four-on-the-floor because the shift knob might bump them and vibrate at the wrong time.  Women shouldn't watch Burt Reynolds because that musty hunk of man might make them daydream of Hollywood star guys.  Sadly, it was always advice geared toward women....while the advice toward men was mostly...don't drink or cuss.

I can understand the cleric's advice here.  He probably got it from his cleric when he was twenty-one.  His cleric back in the it from his cleric who was born in 1875.  This is probably some kind of advice that has been around for 1,600 years.  The sad truth is that maybe a quarter of all Islamic men have never allowed bananas or cucumbers in their house ever, and they daydream about having a nice green banana all day at the office, but can never come home to find one single banana on the counter.

My advice here...if this is the biggest thing that you worry really don't have much of a life.  I'd suggest you hook up the U-Haul trailer, pack the family up, and move to Memphis.  You need some adventure, and there's some pretty lively action going on nightly.  Bananas, cucumbers, and zucchinis ought to be the least of your concerns.  Get a life.

The Secret Answer

We had another shooting here in Virginia yesterday....down at Virginia Tech.  Cop shot after pulling a car over.  At this one is sure about motives.

Adding to this....some guy was seen walking along the interestate....south of Arlington yesterday.  State cop pulls up, and attempts to talk to the guy.  Confrontation occurs, and the cop attempts to push him into the back seat of the cop car.  Things go out of control....both the cop and the suspect end up getting shot (we still don't know where the gun came from or if it's the cop's gun).

Shot rung out yesterday over across the river at the Anacosta Metro station.  No motive, no suspect.  No one injured.

Commentary early this morning is strong about the need for gun reform in the United States.  I noted a couple of British papers already talking about the out-of-control situation that we have.  Guns need to be maintained and locked up.  Most Europeans and a fair number of Americans want to point out how so few Europeans die from guns.  We could do more, by observing the European model....the hint tossed out.

I've spent almost twenty years of my life in Europe.  I came to note this one odd difference between Europe and the US.  Drugs.  On any given day in Frankfurt, if I gave a random drug test to 1,000 people off the'd be an interesting result.  My guess is that twenty-five percent would show some weed usage.  One percent might show some cocaine use.  And twelve folks would show LSD usage.  When you observe these says something.

The same test in the US?  I'd be guessing around thirty-five percent of the folks would show weed use.  And then you'd find this odd ten percent group who would show PCP, Meth, Crack, Cocaine, or some heavy-duty drug usage.

If I inflicted PCP, Meth, Crack, Cocaine or heavy drugs on ten percent of Germany's population.....the yearly murder rate would escalate significantly.  It might not equal the US rate because of their gun control.....but these folks would find sledge hammers, knives, or just a golf club to kill someone with.

When you look at the murder numbers in Iowa in the 1960s and compare to has barely moved up a notch or two.  When you look at Detoit, Memphis, DC, or LA.....the drug boom since the 1960s goes hand in hand with the murder rate in these cities.

The cops really don't want to drug-test these murder episodes when they catch the guy because it simply adds another layer onto the legal defense.  The dimwit can blame the drugs and get a lessen sentence because everyone feels sorry that the idiot was doped up on PCP when he shot five people in a 7-11.

So when the European stands up and wants to really stomp down hard on gun control.....ask them if drugs make any difference in behavior.  He'd like to just skip over that topic, and regain control of the conversation.  The truth is.....if we didn't have the serious drug problem.....the murder results would diminish overnight.  

The Nut

For months, I've been watching the Bradley Manning case develop.  He is the punk kid, who got into the Army, was accepted in the intelligence field, was given a clearance, and eventually downloaded tens of thousands of classified messages which he turned over to the Julian Assange crowd (WikiLeaks).

We are edging closer to the Army court case, where Bradley Manning will likely face justice.

This week however, the defense team and the media have kind of laid this list of problems with Bradley.  Frankly, he was a "nut" from day one, and the Army should have seen this, and never allowed him beyond basic training.

At some point before the whole WikiLeaks episode pointed off to him.....he started to unravel.  His unit actually sent him to a post psychologist for an eval. The kid was so unbalanced, that the psychologist recommended that his weapon be taken away, and that he relieved of night-shift duty. With the same stroke of the pen, he recommended that the kid be given low-stress work because that's all that he could handle.

The Army documented several episodes where he attempted to assault someone or actually did assault an individual.

At one point, someone attempted to revoke his clearance, but it appears that it just didn't happen.

On the face of various comments made, it's obvious that he should have been put out of the Army when the mental issues started to surface.  At the very least, his security clearance should have been automatically revoked.  But it never occurred.

Years ago, I worked in an office where we had an individual who displayed a huge amount of mental and emotional issues.  The individual was classified as suicidal and required a huge amount of Air Force mental health attention.  With the aide of prescription drugs (maximum amount that could be prescribed), the Air Force forged ahead and simply refused to engage the idea that the person was "nuts".  As a contractor at at that point, all I could do was observe.

From start to finish, it took almost two years to finally kick this individual out of the Air Force.  The final effort?  The supervisor decided that since emotional issues and being crazy were totally acceptable.....he merely documented the person's weight issues, and in three simple months....had the sufficient reasons to kick the person out.  Again, no one would revoke the security clearance or stand up to declare the individual a nut.  They had no issue in training the individual on weapons or allowing them to handle classified.

I'd likely make the case today that well over 2k folks reside within the Department of Defense (my numbers and not theirs), who are mentally unstable and ought to be kicked out.  For the most part, we are simply waiting in a stand-by position....refusing to acknowledge they are crazy.  It's acceptable, and really crazy.

Lying and Misleading

There was this episode in DC yesterday....concerning the Fast and Furious situation. The Attorney General had been called down to explain things to Congress.

Representative Sensenbrenner: “Tell me, what's the difference between lying and misleading Congress, in this context?”

Attorney General Holder: “Well, if you want to have this legal conversation, it all has to do with your state of mind and whether or not you had the requisite intent to come up with something that would be considered perjury or a lie," Holder said. "The information that was provided by the February 4th letter was gleaned by the people who drafted the letter after they interacted with people who they thought were in the best position to have the information.”

It's hard to corner the average American citizen and ask them to explain the difference between lying and misleading.  The guy at the local used car lot....misleads on a daily basis.....he never lies.   The Mayor of your local town who is trying to explain why he spent $100k of city funds on fancy artwork for his office....always misleads, and never lies.  The guy caught driving 90 mph in a 60 mph zone, always misleads, but never lies.  Your local weatherman on Channel Four, always misleads, but never lies.

Your Senator is never lying when he tells you that he is representing you in DC....but he is misleading you because he's also representing four Taiwanese billionaires, a Texas oil company, the Ford motor car company, a Brazilian beer company, sixty-two millionaires spread out through the US.  Your Representative is never lying when he says that he's working for tax reform, but he is misleading you because he writes tax code every week to help some American special interest group get more tax credits.

You can never go to jail for misleading people.  There's no law on the books for misleading.  You typically can't be fired for misleading.

Lying is special and different.  The problem is.....when you ask a dozen people off the street....they just can't really explain the difference between lying and misleading.  That should tell you something, which Attorney General Holder can't really talk about.