Saturday, January 23, 2021

On Abortion

Received in email today from The Babylon Bee an appeal from Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) to sign a petition in favor of the "Life at Conception Act" (LACA) that would define 'personhood' as beginning at conception.  Should such an act ever be passed, abortion would be summarily reclassified as 'murder'.  A number of typical and ordinary medical procedures would likewise be summarily recategorized as 'murder'.

How odd that the pro-life movement waited until both houses of Congress and the Executive Mansion are all in the hands of Democrats to bring this issue forward.  They should have done this in 2017 when both houses of Congress and the Executive Mansion were in the hands of Republicans.  Perhaps they were anxious that, were such legislation to fail under perfect laboratory conditions, their entire movement might collapse.

It's not even theoretically possible that LACA might pass now, but this appeal does have the potential to raise money.  Beyond that, LACA would suddenly and, in the manner of unintended consequences, affirm the legitimacy of rape.  How so, you ask?

From a strictly non-denominational perspective, a strictly non-religious perspective, we Americans have a few axioms by which we maintain our society:

  1. we assert as a foundational principle that all political power originates in the people.  What powers the government has it has because we the people granted those powers to the government.  There are powers we have not granted, and powers that we have previously granted that we may at some future time un-grant.
  2. we have thus far as a society declined to define when life begins, although it seems quite certain that 'birth' is the latest point at which anyone may claim that life has not yet begun.  Conception, likewise, is the earliest point that life can be claimed to have started.

Let us assert, for the sake of argument to be refuted later if necessary, that when two persons (instances of 'we the people') behave in such a manner that it is fair to assume their intent was to create life (as by engaging in unprotected sex), then if pregnancy occurs they have created life.  It would be fair in such a case to assert that life exists from conception because of the ability of those persons — from whom all power originates — to create life.

We are forced to address a second scenario, one in which two persons engage in unprotected sex but do not intend to create life.  This is the situation in a rape, whether statutory or otherwise.  In statutory rape, society has already determined that one party cannot, by operation of law, have intended to create life and, therefore, life has not been created.  The fact that Nature disagrees with the legislature by enabling both parties to conceive is a side issue I am unable to address, but suffice it to say that LACA would severely warp the doctrine of 'statutory rape' by forcing a victim to carry the proceeds of a crime to term.

Relieving the victim of the burden of carrying an unwanted fetus to term is, by this act (LACA), unlawful.  It must therefore be true that rape has been elevated to, if not a completely lawful act, at least to the status of 'not entirely criminal'.

Now, if a person requests an abortion for an unintended pregnancy, the question only need to be asked: "Has life been created?"  For cases where one party was an unwilling participant (rape) there ought to be a criminal charge against the other party, thereby proving that both parties did not intend to create life.  If there is no criminal charge, this should be taken as prima facie evidence that both parties intended to create life, that life was therefore created, and an abortion cannot therefore be legally allowed.

Perhaps one or both parties used a contraceptive and one or both failed and a pregnancy ensued.  Given the nature of consensual sex, proving that contraception was used is problematic, and that's also an issue I can't adequately address.  If one can prove via a civil action that there was not consent to create life, the fact that consent was absent should be enough to disprove life and thus an abortion would be permitted.

Any abortion should be accompanied by a criminal charge or a civil action for damages.


Saturday, January 9, 2021

Strange Times

If you burn down Minneapolis, Democratic Congressfolk will excuse your behavior as protected by the First Amendment and CNN talking heads will describe the event as "a mostly-peaceful demonstration".  Police will herd you as well as they can in the desired direction, but you can expect to go home tonight if you don't go to jail.  If you assault the Capitol and do little more than break glass and upend furniture, Congressfolk from both sides of the aisle will berate you and call you an insurrectionist, and the police will pepper-spray you and shoot you dead.

And why are the people assaulting the Capitol?  Well, they're protesting what they see as an entirely illegitimate election.

"But," you say, "there's no proof that the election was illegitimate!" and, in fact, there seems to be no 'proof' (in the accepted sense of that word) of improprieties.  There is, however, a column of smoke smelling distinctly like 'election fraud', and where there's smoke, there's fire.

This is what's causing that awful smell:  Joe Biden ran almost no campaign — the result of Covid-19 restrictions, obviously — and was lashed to the mast of his ship-of-state with Kamala Harris who was so unpopular among Democrats that she terminated her Presidential campaign early for lack of funds.  When Trump held a campaign rally, 25,000 supporters showed up;  When Biden held a rally, he was lucky to see 400 attendees — including the camera crew.  Despite this, he managed to garner more votes than Hillary Clinton did in a hard-fought campaign four years ago, and more votes than a wildly-popular Barack Obama did eight years ago.  Let's not even touch on the mysterious appearance late election night of several thousands of ballots all, by some accounts, for Biden, and many of which contained no votes for down-ballot races.  If you can't smell that, you may be positive for Covid-19.

There's an old adage in medicine:  "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."  Once a mail-in ballot is separated from its enclosing envelope, the ability to identify any ballot as either legitimate or illegitimate is gone irretrievably and forever, so, yes, there's no evidence this election was stolen.

That doesn't mean it wasn't stolen.

74 million American voters no longer believe voting is a good way to express the will of the people.  That's a problem.  Democrats don't care because they 'won'.  That's a much bigger problem.  It means there will be no change to the way elections are run from here on out.  If you're a Republican, you can resign yourself to never winning another federal election.  Your best hope is that the Democrats who now hold both Congress and the White House will screw things up so badly over the next few years that there will be no way to pull off another magical midnight ballot-dump in 2022 or 2024.

Don't hold your breath.


Thursday, December 24, 2020

Losing Faith In The System

In just two weeks, the Congress — the new Congress, will certify the 2020 election.  Various and sundry Trump supporters are hoping for a miracle — that an overwhelmingly Democratic House will void the election of a Democrat to the Presidency, or that Trump will somehow wrangle the same thing.  The Left is reacting much the way Trump supporters acted when Hillary lost.  Between all the bitching and carping by the losers and the smug satisfaction of the winners, we're all losing sight of a very important development.

The faith that most Americans had that elections were fundamentally a good thing has been fatally wounded.

Half of the American voting public no longer believes that an election can deliver on the will of the people.  They feel that they have lost their voice.  They feel that they have been effectively silenced.  Worse than that, they feel that this silencing is permanent.  They have become a permanent underclass.

On the Left, all is calm, all is bright on this Christmas Eve.  They have forgotten — if they ever knew — the famous remark by John F. Kennedy:

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

The words of Oleg Volk upon reading a galley proof of Tipping Point still echo in my mind:

"Frank, I hope you haven't written a documentary."

Me, too, but I'm losing faith that we're going to come out of this intact.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Y2K For Nurses

Norene just read me a snippet of an article in a newspaper about COVID-19 causing a huge surge in demand for RNs who can drop everything and act as shock troops for hospitals experiencing a lack of trained staff.  Wages of $100/hour (and up) are attracting nurses from all over for 13-week contracts almost everywhere.

To a mainframe programmer, this looks like Y2K all over again.  $100/hour annualized for a 2000 hour work year comes to $200,000/year.  Overtime at time-and-a-half can easily double that, and $100/hour is the low end of the scale.  Hot diggity!

A bunch of nurses who have been working for — in many cases — short wages see an offer for an irresistibly high hourly rate, and they figure "In three months, I can pay off my mortgage.  If it all falls apart after that, pffft!".  With no mortgage and probably a nice cash cushion beyond that, a nurse can dish pancakes at IHOP until the dust settles, and good nurses are almost never out of work for very long — if they want to work.

For hospital administrators, it must look like a scene from a horror movie:  all my experienced nurses are gone and now I have to shell out triple to replace them with headcount I have to train to use our systems.  Maybe I should have put them in 'golden handcuffs' when I had the chance.  Yeah, you should have...

Ah, well, it's an ill wind that blows nobody good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Traffic Circles

As long as I'm on a safety jag, I might as well stump for my favorite traffic-easing device: traffic circles (TCs), AKA roundabouts.  Once upon a time, TCs were to be found everywhere.  They were economical because they didn't require the installation of traffic lights with the attendant wiring and opportunities to malfunction and maintenance issues, although they did take up more room.  The beauty of a TC is that the only thing that might slow a driver down is the presence of other traffic, and that's exactly the condition in which you ought to slow down.  With no traffic light to halt you because it's not yet time for it to turn green, you always have the ability — as long as traffic allows — to cruise right on through (including right turns, left turns, and U-turns).  That is, the only red light condition is "there's too much traffic".

In rural France, a driver almost never sees a traffic light, and even STOP signs are fairly unusual (and, yes, they say "STOP', not "ARRETEZ").  Nearly every intersection at grade is a TC, and after you've negotiated two or three, it seems the most natural thing in the world:  slow as you approach, find an opening in traffic, enter the rotation, and exit when you get to the road you want.  If you miss your exit, go around again.  When viewed from above, traffic seems never to stop through a well-functioning TC.

Studies show that TCs are orders-of-magnitude safer than light-controlled intersections:  38% fewer accidents and 90% fewer fatal accidents, not to mention a 28% smaller carbon footprint.  If safety were the overriding goal for traffic engineers, TCs would be ubiquitous.  So why aren't they?

With so many fewer accidents, vehicle stops, and savings on gasoline, there must be some reason they're not more common.  That reason is very probably 'ticket revenue'.  With no red lights to run, there are fewer tickets issued to offending drivers.  Yes, TCs may be economical, but the county doesn't see it that way.  No tickets means no fines.

Then, too, American drivers, having been weaned off the whole TC idea, no longer view TCs as something beneficial.  "OMG, it's chaos!"  To be fair, there are some TCs that are truly horror stories.  Paris' "L'Etoille", the TC that surrounds the Arc de Triomphe, is one such.  Even Parisians shudder at the thought of getting caught in that maelstrom.  The scene in "European Vacation", although set in London, was likely inspired by "L'Etoille".

But...  if the thought of easier passage through intersections, fewer red lights to slow you down, 30% fewer fill-ups at Shell, and a greatly-reduced likelihood of getting a ticket from a red light camera appeals to you, maybe you should think about campaigning for more TCs.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Lights and Wipers

We were driving home from West Palm Beach yesterday after two wonderfully relaxing weeks at a condo owned by my cousin.  Just after we got on the Florida Turnpike, the skies opened up and the rain was coming down in buckets, so much so that I wondered whether I should pull over and wait it out.  Of course I had my wipers wiping furiously and my headlights beaming because, in Florida as in many other states, when your wipers are operating, you must have your headlights on.

You would be surprised — or maybe you wouldn't — by how many other cars on the road didn't have their headlights on even given the horribly reduced visibility.  It occurred to me that it would be a fairly simple engineering change (and in software it would be even simpler) to force the headlights on whenever the windshield wipers turn on.

Given the simplicity of such a change and the lives that might be saved by doing so, I'm stunned that the feature isn't a standard specification for every new car.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Really-Awful Very Bad Election

For weeks, possibly months, Democrats have been predicting a Blue Wave that will hustle Donald Trump out of the White House where he never should have been in the first place.  Republicans, in contrast, have been pooh-poohing the notion under the assumption that GOP voters are reticent about openly supporting Trump for fear of blowback.  One of these was almost certainly true.

Imagine our surprise, then, to see neither a Blue Wave nor a Red Wave, but rather an ordinary neck-and-neck contest between an egotistical braggart and a senile farm-team second-rate politician!

In the run-up to the election, Trump has been packing stadiums with his followers while Biden is lucky to have 200 people — including staff — show up for any of his appearances.  Social media numbers, even given FaceBook's and Twitter's obvious suppression of conservative opinion, has been heavily skewed toward Trump.  One might be forgiven for suspecting that the Dems were about to get their asses handed to them on platters.

Election night proceeded more or less as expected save only for the mysterious appearance late in the process of hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots heavily favoring the Democrat slate.  One report — thus far unverified — claims 138,339 ballots in a single batch were all — ALL — for Biden, 100% of them, zero (0) for Trump.  Statistically, this is as likely as hitting the lottery twice in a row.

The closeness of the election and the slight lead enjoyed by the Democrats, not to mention the several stories of irregularities, combine to make more plausible accusations of vote fraud.

While I have never been an active supporter of Donald Trump, I recognize that he has managed to do things while in office (despite active obstruction by Democratic politicians and elements of his own Department of Justice) that deserve applause:  reducing regulation (which probably had significant impact on both the stock market and the minority unemployment numbers), brokering historic peace deals between Israel and several Middle-Eastern nations, and renegotiating NAFTA; along with several things that warrant raspberries and spitballs:  tariffs prime among them.

What I find hard to justify is the overwhelming waves of hatred — pure hatred — that his opponents fling his way.  The hatred is so unremitting that it results in what some call TDS, Trump Derangement Syndrome:  the haters are unable to even give credit where it's due.  The only thing that matters is putting Trump down.  If that means giving up all the good things Trump has managed to do, that's the price we must pay, and if it means we must overlook the fact that our Presidential candidate is visibly failing, mentally, and is almost certainly NOT up to the rigors of the Office of the President, well, you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.  Besides, there's always the 25th amendment by which Joe Biden can be put out to pasture and replaced by President Kamala Harris who, as a contender for the nomination, was so unpopular among Democrats that she had to drop out of the race early.

You can't make this stuff up.  Democrats have decided that things like 'truth' and 'justice' and 'fair play' are just getting in the way of what must be done.

When "Tipping Point" was being written, Oleg Volk read an early galley and remarked:  "Frank, I sure hope you haven't written a documentary," and I agreed.  That was then; this is now.

The larger the government, the more corrupt it will be.  This seems to be a law of nature.  There are no countervailing examples.  To reduce the corruption, there is but one path:  reduce the size of government.  If that needs to happen via secession, then so be it.  A nice little civil war seems right about now to be a step up from where we are.