SocraticGadfly: 12/7/14 - 12/14/14

December 12, 2014

Greenpeace commits cultural imperialism

I'm sure that, by now, most informed people, especially environmentalists, are well aware of Greenpeace's heaping helping of stupidity and arrogance at Peru's famous Nazca lines.

Yet, some PC-ish types of liberals, or New Left activists continue to try to defend this. (And Greenpeace still has no real apology on its website.)

To those folks, I'm going to hang you by your own petard.

The Nazca figures were made by non-white, indigenous peoples.

Therefore, Greenpeace committed cultural imperialism and you're supporting it. And I hope at least a few of the responsible get the full six years in prison.
“It’s a true slap in the face at everything Peruvians consider sacred,” said Luis Jaime Castillo, the deputy culture minister, after the action by the environmental group on Monday.
There’s your cultural imperialism.

As for questions about whether actual damage was done? Well:
“They are absolutely fragile. They are black rocks on a white background. You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Castillo said. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognised of all.”
And, that’s not taking into effect that this may be cryptobiotic soil like in the US Southwest.

Even if not cryptobiotic, the lines were created by a differentiation in soil color below the surface, which Greenpeace disturbed. (See photo below.) In this story, Luis Jaime Castillo, Peru's vice minister for culture, says bluntly:
There is no known technique to restore it to the way it was.
That's the bottom line.

And, they picked the wrong place within Nazca, even, Castillo said:
The hummingbird was in a pristine area, untouched. Perhaps it was the best figure.

Two more notes.

One, the activists included people from neighboring Argentina, Brazil and Chile, who definitely should know better, one would think.

Two, despite pledge of cooperation with the government of Peru, there's this:
The group said it would cooperate with authorities. But on Friday a spokesman in Lima, Mike Townsley, said that the activists involved in the incident had left Peru and that the group had not given their names to government officials.

In other words, Greenpeace to Peru says: Eff you. 

Beyond that, it’s a second round of cultural imperialism for white Westerners to be telling Peruvian officials that this was no big deal. So, too is a non-apology about possible "moral offense." Any alleged apology where the actual apologetic statement begins with an "if" isn't an apology.

As for people still trying to defend Greenpeace?

Put down the shovels ...

And, let's crank up the petards in another way.

How much carbon dioxide did Greenpeace use for this (and other stunts of the past week) at a climate conference that set a carbon-busting record and is going to end by probably doing nothing, all while relying on the Church of AlGore's carbon offsets, modern environmentalists' equivalent of medieval Catholic indulgences. (A wrap on the Lima meetings: Yes, they essentially did nothing, while pretending they accomplished something.)

Nazca, post-Greenpeace
Update: Greenpeace US has an actual apology. Too bad the internationals don't have such a full apology; as this piece, which includes the photo at left, reminds us, this is just the latest in a laundry list of stupid Greenpeace actions, which above all include destroying Golden Rice as part of a blanket anti-GMO stance.

It's also not the first time that a dumb stunt by Greenpeace has been culturally insensitive to non-white peoples.

But, this was just a "minor environmental error" to its most ardent defenders.

I asked one a rhetorical question about whether it would be OK to do it to Native American-type sites here in the US or First Nations sites in his Canada and he dodged the issue.

As High Country News describes, the Blythe Intaglios, though not well known, are very similar.

Yeah, right.

And, these were all dumb stunts deliberately decided in advance by a group, where nobody apparently said, "Hey, wait a minute."

That's another part of the problem. Groupthink.

December 10, 2014

No Lester — will the Sawks chase Hamels yet?

Cole Hamels —
next stop Boston?
Now that Jon Lester has inked his free agent contract with the Chicago Cubs instead of heading back to Boston, what will Red Sox GM Ben Cherington do next?

The general consensus is that if he wouldn't pay for Lester, then he sure won't pay for Max Scherzer.

And, if he was looking lefty-specific, too, that leaves trading for the Phillies' starter Cole Hamels as his next move.

So, if you're Ruben J. Amaro, with a chance to ask high — but yet realistically and not idiotically (you're wrong in your vote of confidence, Pat Gillick) — who do you want?

Here's a possibility.

I’d “accept” Allen Craig back with Mookie Betts and, say, Jackie Bradley plus top catching prospect Blake Swihart if I don’t push for Xander Bogaerts. (Jimmy Rollins is still OK, at least, so Bogaerts is not a "must," unlike OF upgrades.) Takes multiple OFs off Sawks hands, gambles on any sort of bounce back year from Craig, who can, of course, play 1B against righties if you don’t move Ryan Howard, or play 1B all the time if you do, and theoretically gives you your backstop of the future to replace Carlos Ruiz. And, by taking Craig's not small, but growing, contract, it does a bit of a financial "solid" back to Cherington while still reducing payroll and also building for the future.

Or, if you want to rebuild pitching, see if Matt Barnes might be in the mix.

This isn't set in stone, but something like this is quite realistic.

It's, note to Phils manager Ryne Sandberg? This is enough that it should "blow you away," as well as Ruben. And, it's something where you shouldn't idly sit by, waiting for Cherington to talk to you first, Ruben.

The package that ESPN suggests Theo would offer for Hamels? If it's lacking all three of Betts, Swihart and Barnes, I pass, if I'm Amaro. (And, Phillies fans, don't blame him if he does.) That's written from ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes and is as much PR for the Sawks as it is reality — it offers nothing but lower-level prospects and possibly Bradley as a throw-in.  And, that's far from the first time that Edes has written something that's as much PR as it is straight sports reporting, in my opinion.

For once in the past five years, Amaro is at least halfway in the driver's seat. Ask high, especially if you're willing to take Craig back on a gamble.

Besides, Hamels has better sabermetrics than Lester, albeit with a few more innings on his arm, and costs less, if only a touch less.

Of course, Boston is on Hamels' no-trade list, and may not change his mind.

As for a few fans, on HBT, who think it's ridiculous? "Aceepting" Craig back ... remember, his contract accelerates a lot in 2016 and 2017, and a bounce-back is a definite gamble ... would theoretically increase Amaro's haul. That's part of why I suggested it. It is a bit like eating some of Hamels' salary, but getting a small bit of return back. So, I think my idea is more reasonable than what Edes thinks the Sawks should offer. If Swihart is too much of an "ask" without return, offer Chooch back as part of the deal.

As for fans who would wonder why I could "tell" Theo this or that? I'm just blogging about a realistic trade possibility between two teams.

December 09, 2014

We tortured people, not "folks" — a foreign yin to domestic yang

And, for nothing valuable on intelligence, because just about anybody will say anything to captors to end torture.

Anthony Romero, ACLU
Ex Dir/Wikipedia photo
But, the head of the nation's "premier" organization on "civil liberties" (sorry, scare quotes is the only way I can write) thinks we should pardon the torturers. See below for details on a new low from the ACLU.

The ACLU, the same folks who said last month that Citizens United is good, now think we should pardon the torturers.

And torturers they are.

And, if not torturers, orderers of torture, which, by law, means they were torturers too.


And, that's not all from an executive summary of the Senate report on the CIA's torture.

We killed one person (that we know of) from hypothermia. Waterboarding, aka simulated drowning, almost did the real thing to at least one person.

For all, that, though, most of the details, such as abu-Zubaydah's death and Gul Rahman's near drowning, have been known for years.

They were known to the general public and to President Obama before he made his pseudo-jocular "we tortured some folks" comment.

And, yet, the Dick Cheneys of the world continue to lie about what this achieved, even as the George Bushes of the world talk about "a few bad apples" and the Barack Obamas of the world refuse to prosecute either one.

Arguably, and connected with it due to salvage sale of surplus hardware, this is the flip side of domestic police violence.

While we're not all bad apples, either in foreign intelligence gathering or domestic policing, we're more than "a few."

And, here, as in a lot of places, power corrupts.


Back to the ACLU and Romero's very-pun-intented tortured reasoning.

Folks, if you want to donate to a civil liberties charity, there's one clear choice.

And, it's NOT the American Civil Liberties Union. It's the Center for Constitutional Rights.

A month after the group, in a press release, said Citizens United was good, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero has said we ought to pardon all the torturers for the torture they ordered to be committed.

This is the same Romero who, in conjunction with then-board president Nadine Strossen, engaged in a purge of "dissident" board members several years ago. I've got more on the purge, with links to extended pieces by Wendy Kaminer, on this blog. (Click the "ACLU" tag.)

Do NOT support the ACLU Nationwide. Period.

And, for a lawyer, Romero's reasoning to justify the pardons is incredibly stupid:
I have come to think that President Obama should issue pardons, after all — because it may be the only way to establish, once and for all, that torture is illegal.
So, we should pardon people we believe to have committed manslaughter or robbery, both of which, like torture, are on the books as defined crimes, because somebody else won’t prosecute?

More stupidity follows:
What is the difference between this — essentially granting tacit pardons for torture — and formally pardoning those who authorized torture? In both cases, those who tortured avoid accountability. 
 But with the tacit pardons, the president leaves open the very real possibility that officials will resurrect the torture policies in the future.
Really? And, they wouldn’t do the same with actual instead of tacit pardons?

A liar, a thug and an idiot, all three.

Besides, per Ben Emmerson of the United Nations, torture as a crime against humanity falls under international law, not just US law.


More UGH:

The two psychologists behind reversing the military's SERE training made $80 million for their pains. Let's also not forget that the American Psychological Association has never formally renounced or denounced psychologists participating in torture sessions. (The American Psychiatric Association, on the other hand, has been against it from the start.

That said, this too is nothing new; basic information about this, like most of the rest of the stuff in the Senate's executive summary, came out in 2009. Read this NYT piece.

And, as far as Folks Torturer? He named one of those unapologetic psychologists — the head one at Gitmo — to head up a task force on the health of military families.


Finally, let's not forget that I don't recall the racist, ultra-Zionist New Republic, now thankfully half-dead, ever criticizing this.

December 08, 2014

Boo hoo for Baylor

Urban Meyer and Ohio State’s thrashing of
Wisconsin was the final piece to block the Big 12
from making the College Football Playoff, leaving
Art Briles (top right) and Gary Patterson (bottom
right) to coach their teams in other "New Year's Six"
bowl games. (AP and Waco Tribune Herald pix)
I can understand Baylor football coach Art Briles being bitter about not making the initial college football playoff, but he brewed up some fine whine in Waco, Texas over it. The local-level description of the winemaking is here.

Basically, he blamed everybody but himself and the Big 12 for that result.

Hey, Art? Grow a pair.

Better yet, get your conference and the commissioner who called you a co-champion (undercutting both you and TCU) to grow a pair of teams so you can have a conference title game.

Play a tougher nonconference schedule.

Note to Big 12: Don't ever change your storyline like you did this year. There's either one true champion (with the exception of a three-way tie in which head-to-head records are each 1-1) or there's not. If there's not, then get rid of the cheesy commercials.

And grow a pair. And grow two more teams.

So, boo hoo for the Big 12, too.

As for the Big 12 losing out on extra money?

Art Briles and the conference hotshots can blame Texas. Its greed with the Longhorn Network is why there's only 10 teams in the conference as we speak.

So, Art Briles? I suggest you drive down to Austin, find DeLoss Dodds and kick his ass.

Oh, and upgrade your 2015 nonconference schedule. Which, currently, sucks. As does 2016 and 2017. I mean, UT-San Antonio? Northwestern State? Liberty (as in Jerry Falwell U, I presume?)

Big 12 commish Bob Bowlsby has doubled down on teh stupidz by saying the conference won't add 12 teams just to have a championship game.

Why not?

Note to Big 12 ADs and presidents/chancellors: Not too soon to start looking for a new commish, is it? I mean, he was presiding just after the whole Longhorns Network fiasco; you've got a good excuse to make a move if he doesn't "get it" on the power of conference championships.

And, if you're an AD or president of a member school of another 4 of the "Power 5" conferences, you're going to tell the NCAA in no uncertain terms not to grant a conference title game waiver to a 10-team conference, aren't you?

On the other hand, conference title games as a fan draw seem to have lost their sheen.