Monday, March 16, 2015

OU, ΣΑΕ can't you see...?

   I guess it's come time for me to throw in my couple of bytes on the Sigma Alpha Epsilon brouhaha.

   In a bit of awkwardness, I find myself oddly not at odds with the usually loopy circus blogger.  Namely, that OU President - and former Oklahoma Governor - David Boren mishandled the ΣΑΕ fraternity embarrassment.

  In so saying, it must first be established that the actions recorded aboard the charter bus were repugnant and wholly unacceptable in decent society.  No parent would be proud to see their son joining in the sing-along that took place. Whether the person who recorded the boorish behavior did so to expose it, or out of agreement does not matter - what happened happened.  It also doesn't matter, and doesn't mitigate, that the offensive term repeated in the chant is used freely in rap music - that may be a topic for another discussion - bad behavior is bad behavior.

   But it does matter that this pitiful racist revelry occurred on a private, chartered bus.  It matters that - at most - fewer than one third of the OU chapter's members were aboard that bus.  And it matters that likely not all aboard participated, because now - for the actions of several - 160 fraternity members have been labeled as racists, and have had their chapter closed down.

  It matters that the [probably] drunken sing-along did not violate any laws, and even though it sickeningly conjured up images of lynchings, no reasonable person can say that anyone aboard was incited to commit any such activity, nor was anyone threatened by the disgusting display.

   Regarding the expulsion of the instigators, Mr. Boren seemed to recognize that he was overstepping his legal authority, as he made the caveat "...if I'm allowed to..."  But more importantly, he forfeited a golden opportunity to forge ahead instead of reflexively curtsying to curry favor with the politically correct crowd. Unquestionably, as University President, he had the moral duty to condemn, chastise, and castigate the students involved, and even mete out disciplinary action.  But by shutting down the fraternity and expelling the two main instigators, he has effectively swept the affair under the rug.

   Had Mr. Boren chosen to keep ΣΑΕ and the students, they would have been faced with quite the dilemma: Stay and face the music, or leave ignominiously with no balls.  While some would stay and some would leave, those staying would be subjected to the utmost scrutiny - trial by fire - no doubt that anywhere on campus they walked, they would've carried a figurative scarlet letter 'R', and would've advanced better race relations by decades in their efforts to rehabilitate their reputations.  Those who left would have been as those 'cold, timid souls' that TR spoke of.

   But we'll never know, though it's open to conjecture that there will be litigation, both with respect to the charter revocation (due to the many uninvolved members thusly disenfranchised), and the two expelled students.

   In 1977, eight white men - and one black - in black robes determined in National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, that the Chicago suburb could not prohibit a public parade by American Nazis, even though it was just more than 30 years since the liberation of the Holocaust death camps, and that nearly 40% of Skokie's populace were Jewish.  Although the highest court in the land upheld the Nazis' right to assemble, they were too cowardly to actually do so, and moved their event to Chicago.  When the rally was held, about 20 participants congregated for about 10 minutes - it was a dud.

   In 2015,  the thought police state seeks to eradicate anyone remotely connected with ugly, disparaging speech, even if it's in private, threatens no one, and is voiced by a bunch of college pricks whose biggest concerns that night were not of white supremacy, but whether or not they would get laid.

   I think they got it right in 1977.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Hier nicht pinkeln, bitte.

  • Great to finally get a couple of decent weather days this week!
  • Oldest son invited me to go bowling last Saturday night with his fam. We had a great time, even if I suck at bowling.
Not bowling, but enjoying the light show...
  • This week I was occasioned to go to Tyler.  Between Canton and Ben Wheeler I saw this sign:
Eastbound view
  • The photo was found from the internet, as I couldn't snap one at 60 mph.
NEWSBREAK!  We interrupt this blogpost for an in-studio commentary from the late Miss Emily Litella.

TD [sternly]:  Miss Litella, you were supposed to give your commentary seven minutes ago.
EL:  Oh, I'm very sorry, Mr. Ronald.  I was talking with Rosanne Rosannadanna in my dressing room...
TD [annoyed]:  Actually, it's Mr. Donald, Miss Litella.  I guess it's always something, isn't it?  Please, give your commentary.
EL:  Well, I just wanted to comment about the Little Hope Baptist Church.
TD:  Yes, what about it?
EL:  Why bother?
TD:  Why bother what?
EL:  I just don't see the point of going to the Baptist Church if there's little ho...
TD [interrupting]:  Miss Litella, Little Hope is a 19th century farming community in East Texas.  It's in the same county where former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was bo...
EL:  But, shouldn't there be some chance of redemption?
TD:  He's a Democrat and a Californian now - I'm not sure Willie Brown can be redeemed.
EL:  No, I mean the parishoners at Little Hope Church.  I think they need some kind of encouragement to keep them going.
TD:  Yes, yes, of course, but the name is for the community, not that they're any less optimistic or faithful in their beliefs.
EL:  Oh...I see.  Well that's different.  Never mind...
TD:  Thank you, Miss Litella.  Good night.
EL [unexpectedly returning to the commentary desk]:  Mr. Ronald, will you be sure to tell Todd that Lisa Loopner said hello?
TD [exasperated]:  Of course, Miss Litella, I'll forward the message.  And now for our next story...

Resume regular blogposting.
  • This is similar to the motorcycle I had in high school:
It'd be a bit underpowered for me now,
but it was fun back then.
  • With all the animal rights groups and sensitivity these days, this guy gets fired?
  • ComKev wrote recently about vandals marking up a limestone outcropping at Lake Murray.  Well, a couple of California-twits have them beat - they thought it would be OK to carve their initials in the Coliseum. No, not the L.A. Coliseum - the old one in Rome. But apparently, Americans aren't alone - some Chinese added their own heiroglyphs to an Egyptian site.
  • Dude, you shoulda just got out of there and let it go.
  • If you reload .45 ACP, you probably know that some manufacturers have used cases with small primer pockets.  I found a few such Blazer cases from some scrounged range brass.
Speer (left), uses the normal Large Pistol Primer
Blazer (right), with Small Pistol Primer pocket
  • Ironically, both headstamps were manufactured by the Alliant Techsystems/ATK/CCI/Speer conglomerate, recently re-configured as Vista Outdoor Inc.
  • South African doctors have reportedly achieved a successful middle leg transplant, a feat previously attempted, but failed, in China.  No wang? Dang!  (Maybe they used the wrong dong?)  Apparently, the South African's elephant had been a casualty of complications from a botched turtleneck removal.  Ouch! 
  • I pondered recently whether Mineral Wells health elixir was available in my local market.  Well, I have my answer, as it is carried in the nearby Albertsons, albeit only in the #3 variety:
It's Alkaline - a couple of shots with some
Famous Grouse, you'll be the Energizer Bunny!
  • In Tyler, I saw a Whataburger that's way cooler than any I've seen locally: 
Whataburger meets Hard Rock Cafe...
  • This would be a cool car to restore, just as a lark:
Well, what else would it be?
  • Before crashing the Millennium Falcon into a Putt-Putt, Indiana Jones uncovered a unique Old West artifact: 
The original Cowtown Segway,
reportedly unearthed in Hell's Half Acre.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Donnerstag die Gedanken

  • Oh boy!  It's not everyday that the NTSB reopens a 56 year old CAB crash investigation.  I would have expected that they'd have announced this at the beginning of February, but clearly, the public's fascination will not fade away.  Whether much new can be determined this long after is open to conjecture, but apparently the agency's position is that'll be the day when it doesn't matter anymore.
  • I think I once read in a book about industrial engineering that a contributory factor to the crash was that, while the capable pilot (711 flight hrs. 128 in-type) had instrument training, it was with conventional artificial horizon instrumentation.  The aircraft he was flying that night was equipped with a Sperry gyro which depicted in a reversed perspective from those in which he'd been mentored, so, under IFR conditions, whatever corrective actions he attempted vis-a-vis the Beechcraft's attitude may have been the opposite of what should've been done.
  • It wouldn't have helped that the Bonanza is a very sleek airframe (especially so for its time) - if you point it in the wrong direction, it will go there in a hurry.
Unretouched by Ted Turner...
  • Last night I was texting back and forth with oldest son about motorcycles - this is one I thought was the bees' knees when I was a teenager, though I didn't actually own one.  It had a dual range gear box, so you could ride it as a commuter or as a trail bike.  It'd probably be a bit underpowered for me today, by modern standards.
  • This one's not dual-range, but would be a fun rat-rod bike:
  • A woman dug up her father to see if the will was in his casket.  Sure, if it's not in the safe deposit box, a cookie jar, a fake Miller Lite can, or in a Trailways locker, where else could it be, right?
  • It wasn't there.
  • The guy who invented K-cups wishes he hadn't.  I agree with him.  They're an over-engineered solution to a non-problem.  They're expensive at about 50 cents for an 8 oz. serving, and the coffee, in my experience, is so-so.  My family doc's office has a machine that uses a little plastic or foil pouch - looks kinda like the new baby food container - that's a bit better.  But really, these cups are producing mountains of trash.  A downsized hotel room coffeemaker coffee disk, packaged in a Twinings-type foil envelope, could work just as well with less waste, for people who are challenged at measuring coffee.
  • I drink a fair amount of the stuff, but am not too picky.  At home, lots of times I'll make a mini-pot (it says 4 cups but I think that's really 20 oz. total), not quite two real cups like normal people drink.  If I want more, it's 'camp coffee' - leave the existing grounds in the filter and shovel a tablespoon or so of new coffee grounds on top, add water.
  • When I've wrung out all the caffeinated goodness I can, I toss the spent grounds in the back yard, because I'm a recyclist.
  • If you assume this next is about some Kyoto students who decided to explore caves, shame on you.  It does kinda look like fun.  And it would be less punishing than the mud run middle son and his mom attended a couple of years ago near Hillsboro on a day that brought near-freezing weather.
  • I'm not a fan, but two or more bloggers I follow seem to believe this is a swell idea.  So whether it's my thing or not, it appears to be on its way.
Available at your local newsstand.
  • If it becomes legal, will the Cheech & Chong Christmas story, and SNL Jarrett's Room sketches still seem as funny?
  • I've said before that I'm intrigued by the small-house movement.  Here's some folks that took theirs on the road.
  • I sent that to my sons.  Oldest replied that if that family hasn't upgraded the head bolts on that 6.0, their 'mobile' home might not be, explaining that apparently Dearborn reconfigured the engine for its F-series line in a way not anticipated by Navistar's engineers, chiefly by adding EPA compliance doo-dads, that caused the head bolts to stretch, with mayhem ensuing in many cases.
  • Wonder if that was the same issue experienced by RPM?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Miércoles musings

  • ComKev wrote about other cultures recently - I think the Russians in particular - not understanding folks with happy-go-lucky attitudes, such as may be found in the U. S. of A.  
  • I think that's true for people whose lives have been filled with toil and trouble - irrational exuberance doesn't always translate well.
  • Nonetheless, the Russians are not humorless - it just depends on the setting, as I can attest.  Sometime in 1974, a Soviet Jewish family emigrating (Aliyah) to Israel visited us at our home outside Wien.  I don't think they spent the night with us, but Mom made a big dinner.  As I recall, it was the patriarch (an engineer), his sister, and the man's college-age daughter - there may have been a fourth person.  We were given to understand that the man and his wife had divorced, and she remained in Russia - not out of discord - but as a means for the others to emigrate from the USSR.
  • Anyway, near the end of dinner, the daughter asked if she could let our toy poodle lick her plate.  Wanting to be gracious hosts, Mom of course said yes.  
  • Once the plate was licked clean, the girl picked the plate up from the floor, and got herself a fresh serving of mashed potatoes and gravy...on the same plate.  Naturally, we took this all in stride, though later we thought it was quite funny.
  • After dinner, a guitar emerged (I don't know if it was mine or one they'd brought) and our guests taught us some Russian folk songs (sort of), with much laughter and merriment.
  • While we didn't stay in touch with the family, I heard years later that they'd spent just a nominal time in Israel - apparently the real goal was to move to the US, but that wouldn't have been kosher (OK, pun intended) on the emigration request.  I think the father, who'd been maybe a professor in the USSR, went to work for GE.
  • The second USSR story is from late February or early March 1975.  I was on a class trip, and we were in Leningrad/St. Petersburg.  My friend Marcus and I had wandered into the hotel bar, where a band was playing some sloppy Fab Four covers - these guys were not exactly Me and My Monkey, but they meant well.  Being from Texas (OK, technically from the heartland by way of the Lone Star State), I was wearing boots and a bolo tie.  Before long, the long tables started filling up, and many Soviet sailors and their wives or friend-girls came and sat next to us.
  • Our new friends were quite interested that we were from Texas (from somewhere a Russian-English pronouncing dictionary was produced), and bought us many rounds of rosé wine or pink vodka.  I don't remember if we voluntarily called it an evening or if one of the school chaperones advised us curfew had passed, but before bidding спокойной ночи to our new comrades, in our most diplomatic teen way, we politely kissed the girls, and in an act worthy of a Kissinger-Gromyko (Connor/Brezhnev?) exchange, I gifted them with my sterling silver horse image bolo tie (it was either from Penney's or Leonard Bros.).
  • So, yeah, RWR said "Tear down this wall!", but now you know what really softened up the Soviet view of the West.
  • If I had an enclosed and heated golf cart or Mule type vehicle with clear side curtains - I could just drive around (not on the roads where I'd get run over, of course) in this surreal sleet awesome!
  • I had a lot of material I was going to use tonight, but oldest son and I have been constantly texting back and forth - he, trying to convince me I need a hot 2-stroke motocross bike, and I, trying to explain that I worked out most of that tomfoolery about 40 years ago (though I wouldn't be averse to a trail-capable 4-stroker, a la KLR or Versys).  I told him the thought of listening to one of those d--- buzzy chainsaw motorbikes makes my head hurt.
  • Good night, y'all...