About Captain Midnight

"Captain Midnight, undaunted as usual, knew just what to do." - from The Cat Who Walks Through Walls by Robert Heinlein.

The Ticking Time Bomb of Global Warming

Want to be scared? Go visit OneHundredMonths.org and listen to the ticking time bomb. Tick. Tick. Tick. We are on the way to a climate tipping point, a “point of no return” if we hit 400 parts per million of CO2. And there are only 43 months left before we reach this point!

Or 39 months if you add the days or hours from the countdown timer to today. I guess someone should explain to them that they lopped off about four months from their countdown timers, but what are four months among friends? So by December (or September) 2016, the global warming ticking time bomb will explode, and at that point it will be too late. If we don’t fix global warming by then, “we could be beyond our climate’s tipping point, the point of no return.” (Cue the ominous music)

I bring this up because the New York Times wrote that we had hit the 400 ppm level of CO2 at the Mauna Loa observatory in May, 2013, years ahead of what OneHundredMonths.org has predicted.

The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years.

Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering.

The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea.

400 parts per million of CO2! Levels not seen for 3,000,000 years! Quelle horreur! Everybody panic!

Well, not so fast. Mauna Loa observatory says that we didn’t break 400 ppm after all. Whew! We are safe! The LA Times article reports that the numbers have been revised to 399.89 ppm. That means we are only 0.11 ppm away from OneHundredMonths.org’s tipping point of 400 ppm. Cue the ominous ticking noise again! Engaging panic mode… PANIC!

OneHundredMonths.org isn’t the only place telling us that the climate change clock is ticking. The Miami Herald quotes Noel Brown, the director of the New York office of the U.N. Environment Program, that we have only a 10-year window to fix global warming.

A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed…. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of “eco-refugees,” threatening political chaos, said Noel Brown, director of the New York office of the United Nations U.N. Environment Program, or UNEP.

Ten years. That’s all we have before entire nations are wiped off the face of the Earth. I hope you have good flood insurance. Have you considered moving to higher ground?

Oh, wait. Noel Brown issued that UNEP report in the summer of 1989, almost 24 years ago.

Never mind.

Happy Tax Day 2013!

Ah, April 15th, the day Americans pay our income tax to the federal government. If you haven’t filled out your tax forms already, there’s only a few hours left to do so, or at least fill out an extension.

On the years when I know I have a rebate coming to me, I like to fill out my 1040 form as early as possible to get my money back. After all, I earned it by working hard, so I’d like my money back as soon as possible. On the years when I know I’ll have to write a check out to the IRS (often addressed to the Infernal Revenue Service), I see no reason to give the government my money any sooner than is required. This normally happens when I sell a bunch of stock. Knowing that I’ll have to pay Uncle Sam for the privilege of capital gains, I take 20-25% of the stock sale and place it into a savings account, or something with a better return rate, and then until April 15th, that money earns me interest before going off to the government.

Berkeley Breathed summed up my feelings about income tax in a “Bloom County” comic from over 20 years ago. Click for the full size.

Paying taxes in Bloom County.

This year, I didn’t wait until the last minute to file my taxes: I waited until the day before to get it done. But not everyone pays income taxes in the United States, and there is a technical term for these non-tax payers: Democrats. [1] [2] [3]

QUILTS #3 – Do You Lock Your Door?

Here’s a question I‘d like to see answered: when you leave your home, do you lock your door?

I can’t answer for you, but I do. The phrase, “a man’s home is his castle” certainly applies to me, and I rule here as a benevolent monarch, just as long as my wife allows me. I don’t lock up my house because I hate people, but because I want to know who is in my home. People have no right to enter my home without permission to do so.

“You’re just one of those weird types who hates people!” Ah, no, I just said I don’t. I just simply believe in boundaries, and no one should enter my home without being invited in first. Just like vampires. But if you’re invited, then you’re more than welcome in my home. Several years ago, I received a request from a friend passing through town. She wanted to know if she could crash for the night. I happily told her that she should consider herself at home, but she’d have to let herself in since we were out of the state at the time. I trusted her to be a good guest in our home and to make sure it was properly locked up once she left. She didn’t disappoint.

So you need to be invited to enter my home. I don’t care whether you come in to steal my stuff or just to clean things up, like Sue Warren.

Police in Westlake say Sue Warren of Elyria broke into a home last week and began tidying up, but she didn’t take anything. They say she then wrote out a bill for $75 on a napkin and included her name and address.

One officer says Warren told him she does it all the time. Only now, she’s in jail on a burglary charge.

Wow. Imagine being arrested for burglary, just for doing jobs that people don’t want to do. OK, that’s a little snarky, but I think you can see where I’m going. Just as my home is my castle, and I reserve the right to admit only the people I choose, this same principle extends to the borders of the United States. We have rules in place to determine who may enter and who may stay. We may choose to amend these rules, but if we simply ignore them and turn a blind eye to those who break them, it sends a clear message to scofflaws and squatters that they can trespass with impunity. If this goes on, eventually certain parts of our nation may become too dangerous for law-abiding citizens to inhabit.

Let me be clear about this: I don’t care where you came from. American citizens came from all over the world. We’re proud mutts, and most of us can trace our ancestry to half a dozen nations or more. Since America has always selected its citizens for excellence, the result has been astounding diversity, and we’re better and stronger for it. But would-be citizens have always had to go through the process of naturalization. We want more Americans, but we want them to be here legally. We welcome visitors from other nations, but they must maintain valid visas to stay here.

Bob Gorrell - Your house is my house

This Thursday will be our second Soup Night of the year. The last time we made three soups and had about ten people to gobble them up. So far we’re on track to entertain many more this time. We supply the soup at these gatherings, but people are responsible for bringing their own bowls and spoons, and maybe some bread, too. Since it was well received last time, we’ll probably continue Soup Night every month or two just because it’s fun. My wife reminds me it’s also delicious. But if we ever reach a point where total strangers start walking into my house, picking up bowls and scarfing down food like Goldilocks, we’ll stop having Soup Night.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I love guests, whether in my home or in my nation. But people who break in, regardless of their motive, get my dander up. It’s nice that some of them are cleaning up and doing chores around the place, but that doesn’t change the fact that they broke the law to get in. Such “guests” need to be shown the door. And if we lock our door at home, it makes sense to lock the nation’s door as well.

Cross-posted at The Captain’s Comments

Four Liberal Tactics

Over time, I’ve noticed that liberals have four common tactics they use again and again and again. I’ve labeled these tactics as Demonstrate, Legislate, Adjudicate, and Steamroll. They don’t have to be tried in any particular order, but they do seem to pop up regularly. So let’s look at each one.

Demonstrate. This is the liberal cry of “I (don’t) want” as expressed by the masses of sign-holders or Occupy Wall Street squatters. In the first case, the union didn’t want non-union workers at the port, and in the second case the Occupy crowd wanted other people’s money. The tactic is pretty simple: browbeat verbally (or physically beat) your opposition into doing whatever you want.

Legislate. Liberals love democracy — as long as the vote goes their way. When the vote doesn’t go their way, they will bring the issue up again and again, but once it passes, however narrowly, the liberals will declare that the people have spoken and there should never be another vote on the matter ever again. To be fair, conservatives will bring an issue up for a vote multiple times, too. But conservatives usually understand that an issue voted on and passed one year can be voted on and repealed another. Once passed, laws are not set in stone for conservatives the way they are for liberals. Well, assuming that the liberal was pushing for the law in the first place.

Adjudicate. A common next step for liberals, after failing to get an issue passed by the people or representatives, is to go to the courts and force it through there. Since proponents of gay marriage were having problems getting the majority of voters to agree with them, their alternative tactic was to make it legal through judicial fiat. That’s how it worked in California, Connecticut, and Iowa. So if you can’t get 50% + 1 vote from the people or the legislature to pass what you want, then there’s always the option of having someone in black robes do the heavy lifting for you.

Steamroll. If all else fails, Liberals simply try doing what they want anyway, ignoring both votes and courts to proceed in their desired direction. Recently, Pres. Obama appointed three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), doing so by exercising his ability to appoint people to positions that require Senate ratification when the Senate isn’t in session. But the Senate considered itself to still be meeting in “pro forma” meetings. Senator Harry Reid started the process in 2007 of holding “pro forma” sessions to prevent then-President Bush from making these recess appointments. In January 2012, Pres. Obama used the “steamroll” tactic to recess-appoint four nominees, as the New York Times put it, “effectively calling the pro forma Senate session illegitimate.” A year later, the D.C. court of appeals ruled that Pres. Obama was wrong to do so. In response to this ruling, the NLRB chairman, Mark Pearce said that the NLRB “respectfully disagrees with today’s decision and believes that the president’s position in the matter will ultimately be upheld.” That’s a classic “steamroll” response. “Courts? Pfft. I’m gonna roll on. After all, who’s gonna stop me?”

Liberals seem to believe they should use any tactic necessary to get what they want. As Nancy Pelosi put it, “We’ll go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we’ll go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we’ll pole vault in. If that doesn’t work, we’ll parachute in, but we’re going to get health care reform passed for the American people.” And if they can’t get it to work with Demonstrate, Legislate, Adjudicate, and Steamroll, liberals will just pick one of the four tactics and try again.

Cross-posted at The Captain’s Comments

Diversity Über Alles: Putting Women In Combat

I like diversity. Without it, my life would be one boring continuous slog through sameness. I love trying different foods, meeting different people, seeing different scenery, and enjoying different experiences. But this diversity obtains because I desire it — there is no need for some bureaucrat to mandate it into my life. True diversity comes from the freedom to choose the best. In my professional life, I have worked with and befriended team members from Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Ireland, France, Italy, Turkey, Hungary, England, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Canada, and from all over the United States. These talented men and women were picked because they excelled in their chosen profession, not because of their looks or background. And because the companies I worked for wanted to pick the best people for the job, the natural outcome was a wide diversity of people, ideas and backgrounds. It was freedom, not the soft-racist cry for diversity at all costs, which made this outcome possible. And the companies were better off for having hired the best, not for filling some mandated quota.

That’s not how liberals see it, however. They believe diversity should be an end in itself. A hoary old chestnut of American liberalism is “Diversity is our strength.” Is that so? In my experience, it works the opposite way. When we look primarily for strength — the will and ability to accomplish the task at hand — diversity will be a natural side benefit. But when diversity is championed as the primary goal, it’s strength that suffers.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s see what happens when filling quotas becomes more important than seeking out excellence. Let’s look at the police force of Dayton, Ohio.

The city’s Civil Service Board and the U.S. Department of Justice have agreed on a lower passing score for the police recruit exam after it was rejected because not enough blacks passed the exam.

Dayton has decided it is no longer seeking the best recruits for its police force; it’s more important for the police to look racially diverse. To fulfill this mandate, it decided to lower its standards, which means that less-qualified people are getting police jobs in Dayton. The quest for diversity for its own sake has resulted in lower-quality police officers. Diversity is our strength? Not in Dayton’s police force, it’s not.

This brings me to the main thrust of my article: the recent decision by the U.S. military to allow women into combat roles. I see this as another quest for diversity for its own sake, at the cost of getting the best soldiers for combat situations.

Lisa Benson - Women in Combat

It’s often said that the primary purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. As a former military brat, I’d expand that saying: everything the military does should
fall under the rubric of its primary purpose. Whenever the military is asked to do something that reduces its ability to fulfill its primary purpose, the military should turn down that task. But since the American military is under the control of elected officials, it can easily fall prey to social experimentation and liberal do-goodery, such as putting women into combat.

In a scene from the cult film Joe vs. the Volcano, Joe’s boss Mr. Waturi asks repeatedly in a phone conversation, “I know he can get the job, but can he do the job?” Replace “he” with “she” and you have the key question to ask about placing women in combat roles. For the most part, women are neither as big nor as muscular as men. This means that women wanting to fill combat positions, where strength and endurance are key to survival, will be at a marked disadvantage from the beginning. If I were an army private wounded in combat, I would want my squad mate to be strong enough to toss me over one shoulder and run me out of danger. I wouldn’t care whether my mate’s first name were Sam or Samantha; I’m focused solely on the end result. But the likelihood of a Samantha being able to execute that life-saving task is far less than it is for a Sam.

“But Captain, there are strong women who can pass the physical requirements.” Sure, there are some very fit women who can pass the requirements, but they are the exception, not the rule. And I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that when the desired number of women fail to meet the physical requirements for military service, the number-crunchers’ first instinct will be to lower the requirements, just the way it was done in Dayton. End result: fewer prepared combat troops and more casualties in battle. How is this a good thing again?

Gary Varvel - Women in Combat

There is also the question of unit cohesion and behavior of the troops during combat. John Luddy wrote the following for the Heritage Foundation back in July 27, 1994:

History shows that the presence of women has had a devastating impact on the effectiveness of men in battle. For example, it is a common misperception that Israel allows women in combat units. In fact, women have been barred from combat in Israel since 1950, when a review of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War showed how harmful their presence could be. The study revealed that men tried to protect and assist women rather than continue their attack. As a result, they not only put their own lives in greater danger, but also jeopardized the survival of the entire unit. The study further revealed that unit morale was damaged when men saw women killed and maimed on the battlefield.

Ignoring the lessons learned from 1948, Israel decided in 2000 to put women back into active combat roles. My response echoes that of Mr. Waturi: I know she can get the job, but can she do the job? Time will tell, but hopefully not at a high cost in blood and lives.

“Diversity is our strength,” liberals like to claim. But when they value diversity more than strength — more than human life — the end result is often weakness, and it can have a terrible cost. That’s what happened to the police force in Dayton, Ohio, and it’s what happens each time liberals push for diversity for its own sake. In the end, liberals prove Quinn’s First Law to be in full effect: Liberalism always generates the exact opposite of its stated intent.

Cross-posted at The Captain’s Comments