On the Armenian Genocide:

Some thoughts from The Weekly Standard. It’s a little chilling to think how obsessed some in our society are with placing individuals into neat categories:

Mass exterminations generally involve two prerequisites: 1) a mandated program by a centralized state power, and 2) a well-coordinated, aggressive propaganda campaign that enlists public support in vilifying the targeted group. It’s also worth noting that war often serves as cover for genocide; the Armenian Genocide took place during the total war conditions of World War I.Propaganda campaigns to dehumanize the victims are central to virtually every mass killing in history. Generally, the targeted group — in this case, Armenian Christians — is vilified and ostracized by the rest of society. Such messages saturate the media and mobilize the culture until the groupthink emerges and takes on a life of its own. Opposing opinions are easily suppressed under the weight of groupthink. Once they’ve cultivated an us-versus-them mentality, perpetrators feel justified and enabled to commit acts of violence. This seems to be a human default position to which most people succumb – whether as culprits, victims, or silent bystanders.Perhaps most fascinating about this phenomenon is how often the perpetrators actually project onto the victims their own intentions. Consider that the Jews in Nazi Germany were exterminated for being a “threat” to the German nation. Likewise, the genocide of up to a million Tutsis in Rwanda in 1994 was accompanied by a massive propaganda campaign in which the Hutus totally demonized the Tutsis, for having wild designs against the Hutus.Pre-homicidal propaganda campaigns don’t always center on ethnicity or religion. They can be about anything else in identity politics, including class status. In the 1930s, for example, communist dictator Joseph Stalin forced the collectivization of agriculture in the Soviet Union by systematically killing and starving millions of industrious peasants — the “kulak” class – who were labeled “enemies of the people.”

Source: Genocide Begins with Groupthink | The Weekly Standard

Cities for People—or Cars? | The American Conservative

Some good notes from the American Conservative:

Auto-based development patterns follow a now familiar cycle of growth, stagnation, and then rapid decline. During the growth phase, when everything is shiny and new, the affluent move in and enjoy the prosperity of a place on the rise. But as those random failures emerge and things start to decline, those with the means to move on tend to do so, leaving behind cities of dwindling wealth. As the decline steepens, local governments borrow money in the hopes that their revenue problems are simply a temporary cash-flow crunch. The result over decades, however, is an insolvent city with huge debts serving an impoverished population poorly situated to bear the financial burdens of an auto-dependent existence.

Source: Cities for People—or Cars? | The American Conservative

Why I Won’t Participate in the Ice-Bucket Challenge – via Front Porch Republic

From Jeffrey Polet:

The idea is strange at its core. You pour water on your head in order to avoid donating, but more than that, you do it in a very public way. While the challenge may have the tertiary benefit of drawing attention to the disease, what it really draws attention to is the self. This is why it’s an effective approach in the age of social media, the major advantage of which is self-promotion.

The chain effect operates essentially on the principle of shame. “I have performed this good deed, and I challenge you to do likewise, and if you don’t, everyone will know.” It has the scent about it of a kind of mass hysteria: people engage in the act because it seems good, without having to do an actual good deed, or think seriously about the consequences. Attributing motivation to any human action is often tricky, and rarely are motivations pure in the sense they are absolutely good or absolutely bad. Generally speaking, any action has about it a hint or a tint of self-interest.

But that self-interest is simultaneously heightened and occluded by the complexities placed upon action by publicizing and pressuring. To resist the highly-publicized demand to pour water on oneself is to draw attention to the fact that there is some sort of serious deficit in your character. What kind of person doesn’t want to rid the world of ALS, or of evil altogether?

via Why I Won’t Participate in the Ice-Bucket Challenge – Front Porch Republic.

A Universally Acceptable and Economical Energy Source? | Watts Up With That?

Utah would be wise to look into building plants of this type, especially as a solution for disposing of spent fuel from conventional nuclear plants.

Commercially, a $2 billion dollar 520MWe power plant can meet the needs of utilities facing only gradually increasing demand as well as those whose service area doesn’t require the 1000MW plus size of a conventional reactor, or those wanting to replace fossil-fueled load-following or baseload coal plants. Build time is estimated to be 36 months. The plant does not require any source of cooling water – the molten salt fuel liquid acts as its own coolant as it flows thru the primary loop, transmitting heat (but not radiation) to an intermediate loop. The lack of any requirement for cooling water dramatically increases the number of potential build sites. In fact, its inherent safety characteristics would allow for these reactors to be sited near large population centers, avoiding lengthy transmissions, reducing costs due to power losses and transmission line construction.

via A Universally Acceptable and Economical Energy Source? | Watts Up With That?.

Cigars, But Not Close :: SteynOnline

Last year, my meek mild-mannered mumsy office manager was pulled over by an angry small-town cop in breach of her Fourth Amendment rights. The state lost in court because the officer’s artful narrative and the usual faked-up-after-the-fact incident report did not match the dashcam footage. Three years ago, I was pulled over by an unmarked vehicle in Vermont and (to put it mildly) erroneously ticketed. In court, I was withering about the department’s policy of no dashcams for unmarked cars, and traffic cops driving around pretending to be James Bond but without the super-secret spy camera. The judge loathed me (as judges tend to), but I won that case. In 2014, when a police cruiser doesn’t have a camera, it’s a conscious choice. And it should be regarded as such.

And, if we have to have federal subsidy programs for municipal police departments, we should scrap the one that gives them the second-hand military hardware from Tikrit and Kandahar and replace it with one that ensures every patrol car has a camera.


Cigars, But Not Close :: SteynOnline.

Rick Perry Indictment Is Unbelievably Ridiculous — NYMag

They say a prosecutor could get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, and this always seemed like hyperbole, until Friday night a Texas grand jury announced an indictment of governor Rick Perry. The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting —  which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question —  make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg —  a Democrat who oversees the state’s Public Corruption unit —  was arrested for driving very, very drunk. What followed was a relatively ordinary political dispute. Perry, not unreasonably, urged Lehmberg to resign. Democrats, not unreasonably, resisted out of fear that Perry would replace her with a Republican. Perry, not unreasonably, announced and carried out a threat to veto funding for her agency until Lehmberg resigned.

via Rick Perry Indictment Is Unbelievably Ridiculous — NYMag.

Los Angeles’s Great Flood by Rory Cohen, City Journal 15 August 2014

‘Fixing L.A.’s century-old water pipes, according to DWP officials, could take 300 years. “That’s probably longer than we would like it to be and we will be looking at all of our infrastructure, in light of this incident,’ DWP Senior Assistant General Manager Jim McDaniel said at a news conference.”

via Los Angeles's Great Flood by Rory Cohen, City Journal 15 August 2014.

$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along – NYTimes.com

“Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail,” Mr. Obama said in his 2011 State of the Union address. “This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying — without the pat-down.”

But as Mr. Obama’s second term nears an end, some experts say the president’s words were a fantasy.

“The idea that we would have a high-speed system that 80 percent of Americans could access in that short period of time was unadulterated hype, and it didn’t take an expert to see through it,” said Kenneth Orski, the editor and publisher of an influential transportation newsletter who served in the Nixon and Ford administrations. “And scattering money all around the country rather than focusing it on areas ripe for high-speed rail didn’t help.”

via $11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along – NYTimes.com.

Judge Who Let Ray Rice Off For Domestic Abuse Pushes Prosecution Of Philly Single Mom

The same judge and prosecutor who let professional football star Ray Rice avoid a trial after beating his wife unconscious are pushing forward with the prosecution of Shaneen Allen, a single mother who carried a gun into New Jersey without realizing her Pennsylvania permit didn’t apply there.

Allen, a mother of two from Philadelphia, was driving in New Jersey last fall when she was pulled over by a police officer. She informed the officer she had a handgun in her purse and a Pennsylvania license-to-carry permit, at which point the officer arrested her and charged her with a felony for unlawful possession of a weapon, because New Jersey does not recognize out-of-state gun permits.

via Judge Who Let Ray Rice Off For Domestic Abuse Pushes Prosecution Of Philly Single Mom.