Java Zen:Thinking Out Loud Thursday, 2020.02.27
Style may not be the answer, but at least it's a workable alternative.


Monday Evening Roses




When Napping Is Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Nap

Take a nap, go to jail No rest for the wicked? There will only be rest for the wicked.

A teenage girl could face criminal charges after the two toddlers she was baby-sitting drowned in a nearby pond in a rural Pennsylvania town.

The coroner says the deaths were accidental. But the 18-year-old, who is related to one of the girls, could be held responsible if she is found to have been negligent or reckless.

The baby sitter told state police she put the girls down for a nap Wednesday and took a nap herself. When she woke up, she said the two girls were missing from the house.

There are a few other clichés that could be rewritten to match the sentiment.

It’s a tragedy with potentially far reaching repercussions. I suppose the sitter was negligent, 18 years is certainly old enough to understand the responsibility – or at least it was when I was 18. My sense is that kids these days are more isolated from the ideas of consequences and responsibility. We can thank the shift toward a nanny state mentality in public education and draconian social services for much of this. But Dr. Helen asks:

So, if taking a nap while babysitting turns out to be a crime, what would napping while parenting be called? And if cases like this are prosecuted–isn’t it too dangerous to babysit for anyone, relatives included?

Glenn Reynolds observes:

Everybody wants to demonstrate that they care about kids by ratcheting the standards for parenting and childcare ever-higher. But in doing so we raise the costs of having kids — you can’t even go out, because who’ll babysit if the liability is so extreme? — and that probably does more societal damage.

I also note that when I was on the state’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, I heard a lot of child-welfare authorities who testified make the same kind of excuses for the neglect or abuse of children in their care that they refused to accept from parents, etc. — we’re so busy, there’s not enough money, it’s not our fault they live in a building that’s old and unsafe, etc. As Reverend Lovejoy said, when the state does it, it’s not wrong!

I’m not surprised that the same excuses are used by bureaucratic authorities. Government institutions are not made up of socially enlightened people with superior intelligence and impeccable moral vision (although they themselves may think they are such divine beings.) It’s much more likely the wheels are cranked by regular people who have a lot invested in having acquired the position they occupy. So they want to protect their position and do so with regular people excuses. In the worst cases, however, the wheels are cranked by folks matching the lowest common denominator. These people are scariest of all as they will actively work to insure there is a market for their “skills.” What do you suppose the Baby Sitter Police might look like and who would join the force? I can think of a few models in place right now.

[Edit History]


There’s more to the story (H/T: Instapundit):

A teenager had been up all night drinking at a party before coming home to baby-sit her stepsister and another toddler, who both wandered outside and drowned in a nearby pond while the teen slept, state police said Tuesday.

“OK im finally done drinking and im rocked lol,” she text-messaged a friend — using the shorthand for “laughing out loud” — between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. last Wednesday, police said. A few hours later, the children were dead.

The emerging facts are more than a little disturbing. As it turns out, the teenager is actually 19 years old and is telling conflicting stories. I’ll say it again: “My sense is that kids these days are more isolated from the ideas of consequences and responsibility.”


From The Good-Doggie-Gooooooood-Doggie Department

I don’t get it. This is America. We can put a man on the moon, evaporate milk and, most miraculously of all, find a way to entertain ourselves with the likes of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. So why is it we can’t figure out a way to get coyotes to attend some anger management classes? There ought to be a LAW that makes them behave, damn it! Please, think of the pets! If is saves at least one Bichon Frise it will have been worth it.

Coyote Warning

Came across this sign while on a bike ride this afternoon. Huge sections of field and brush were marked off, crime scene tape style, with these big scary red signs planted at regular intervals. Any PETA persons available to get in there and teach these pesky coyotes how to play nice in the neighborhood? I’m sure all you’ll need to do is sit down with them and show them you care. Perhaps some hugs and kisses will help, too.

Monday Afternoon Columbine



Beverage-Through-The-Nose Award For Ann Althouse

I’ve been intending to resurrect the old Java Zen awards here on the blog, but just haven’t been inspired to actually do the work. But this morning, I was inspired. While reading a post on Althouse, a classic beverage spewing moment occurred and a brief pause followed while coffee was cleaned off the computer monitor.

I’m late to the whole exchange between several blogs regarding a pill that ends menstruation. Within this exchange, Eugene Volokh comments:

It’s been amazing seeing my wife and other women deal with her first pregnancy. Immediately upon announcing to the world she’s pregnant, my wife was part of the “in crowd.” Every mother–whether she knew my wife well or not–could smile and talk about morning sickness, or finding out the baby’s gender, or feeling bloated, etc.

To which Althouse responds in award winning fashion:

Oh, for the love of…. like it’s a big, fun sorority. I’d rather be able to use my own body to write my name in the snow.

So here’s to Ann Althouse, and thanks for providing one of the better laughs I’ve had in a good long while.


From The Context-Is-Everything Department


Global warming alarmists actually make a great deal of sense. That is, once you imagine that every time they open their mouths they’re talking not about the environment but about Islamic terrorism.

Blair’s entire column is worth the read. A similar column could be written by applying what the Surrendercrats say about Islamic terrorism to global warming.


TSA – Safe Haven For Creepy Cretins With Stunted Self-Esteem

Ever since grade school, I’ve had to deal with a particular attitude among hyper-insecure short people whereby they have an impulsive need to somehow “prove” themselves by doing me harm. “Get the big guy, it’ll look good and if I lose, well hey, I lost to the big guy and I sill look good.” It’s not just me. All big guys seem to have to deal with this at some point. As the big guy, it means either way you loose. In grade school, it meant getting picked on a lot and occasionally beaten up. Wasn’t much of a fighter thanks, in part, to that “turn the other cheek” crap. On the rare occassion I did fight back, it was a net loss because the poor, smaller underdog usually gathered sympathy from those unaware the runt initiated the conflict.

When the teenage years brought muscle to my lanky frame, the intimidation factor pretty much closed the door on the physical proving grounds, even though I was still clinically shy and quite the accomplished wimp. (Adding an Aikido black belt to my set-O-skills sealed this avenue off permanently.) At this point, the weak-ass diminutive efforts at sniping hits of self-esteem off of others perceived as self-confident becomes much more covert. Also at this point, it is no longer limited to just males. The covert field is a level one that offers satisfaction for both genders.

It’s easy to recognize the attempts at marginalizing who I am or otherwise confine my choices like a hawk recognizes a rabbit. Water off a duck’s back, these days. Ignoring the attempt is all I have energy for. There are, however, occasions where I have no choice but to deal with such stunted emotional growth. And it’s always situations where the self-esteem starved cretin is on the other side of the fence, taunting from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch, as it were. The secondary and tertiary consequences of September 11, 2001, and the rise in power of the TSA security agent at airports is a real time example of this environment.

It’s a low level job with a relatively low skill threshold to qualify. But you get the uniform and, with the full weight and power of federal law, you get to ply your trade from the safety of Mom and Dad’s porch. An attractive environment for the feeble-esteemed. What a joy they must feel, knowing that with a wave of their hand they can force whom ever to do the “little security dance” for their pleasure. (The fact most of the airport security hoopla is all theater belongs in a separate post. Better yet, go here.)

When traveling, I tend to get tapped for the extra security screening. Not that I’m sporting the terrorist look, rather, I suspect, because I’m tall, muscular and probably have a displeased look on my face due solely to the fact I have to squeeze my 6′ 5″ frame into a puny lawn chair inside an aluminum tube and remain frozen there for the duration of the flight. But maaaaaaaaaaaybe, I’m just having paranoid dilutions. So I started keeping track. So far, every time I’ve been tapped, it’s been by members of the 5′ 5″ or less ruck of TSA agents.

Still…water off a duck’s back. The strategy of choice is to acknowledge the runt only as much as necessary and get the hell out of there. But like with the school yard, the runt knows they get to win and all I can do is loose. So, I do the “extra security dance”, update the mental score card and go on my way. A recent trip to Dallas was a little different. It’s the closest I’ve come to empirical proof that this attitude exists within the TSA ranks.

It was a short business trip, so I had one carry on with everything I needed, including all those extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels sealed in the required 1 qt. zip-lock bag. I do my dance – shoes off, belt off, watch off, wallet out, laptop out, bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels out, boarding pass held in my teeth…

All goes fine. I’m on the other side getting dressed again and I look up to see a short, fat, unattractive female TSA agent holding up my bag of extremely seriously frighteningly dangerous liquids and gels. She has one of those half grins going. And I think, “Uh-oh.”

“Is this yours?”, she asks. (No courtesy “Sir” at the end. Uh-oh.)

“Yes”, say I.

Slowly, deliberately she takes out the toothpaste. “This is too big.” I just look at her. She unrolls the end of the tube down a bit and points to the label, “It’s 5 ounces and has to be less than 3.” I just look at her. She is holding that more than half empty tube of toothpaste up with a condescending, self-satisfied smile on her face. I imagine the same smile slithers across her face after finishing off that quart of vanilla crunch ice cream each night back at the hovel. But there was more to the vibe. If I could read her mind (scary thought), I suspect there was something like “Go ahead, you bastard. Give me a reason to take you down. Make my day.” Given this blubbery TSA hag was wearing a TSA uniform – the most powerful, illogical, contradictory, uncaring authority on the concourse that can blow my life clean out of the water – I wasn’t feeling lucky.

I trade glances with the lady next in line and think, “I’ve already lost here. But, I still can choose how much I want to loose.” I could have helped TSA hag with the math, but that would have meant getting to know TSA hag much more than I cared to in this or any other life time. I chose to loose the toothpaste.

It’s schadenfreude, to be sure. Any bureaucracy that gives this kind of power over the minutia of other people’s lives gets exploited by the emotional runts it hires to implement it’s intrusive, ineffective policies.

[Edit History]


I’m sure these petty types lash out at others for similar reasons against different traits. I happen to be tall and male, so that’s the filter I get. For being pretty, well dressed or intelligent…not so much.


Grammar and typo fixes.


Urban Scare Crow – The Fine Print

I’ve written previously about my urban scare crow. It has served me well for close to 3 years now. A recent rash of arrogant, smug, self-rightous doooooo-gooders of various sorts have seen fit to interpret the scare crow’s message, shall we way, rather liberally. “I’m not really a solicitor. I’m here for an important cause.” Well, it had better be to tell me my house is on fire, the locus are coming or you’re bleeding to death.

Turns out, their important cause is to tell me what heinous damage I’m doing to the planet animals my soul what ever gross nominalization they have printed on their clipboard and how money and/or a signature can heal my evil ways. This has prompted an addendum to the urban scare crow:

Urban Scare Crow - The Fine Print

Lucky for the clinically thick I lack the time to chase after my 50 bucks. But hey, at least I know of one hobby to pursue in retirement.



It’s Holocaust’s All The Way Down, Baby

If it didn’t happen, why are they working so hard to convince themselves it didn’t?

And on a related meta note, if they don’t fear them so much, why promulgate such contorted logic to suppress them and beat them into submission?


A Glimpse Of What’s Behind The Democratic Party Mask

Hot Air has a clip of an interview with Michelle Obama on Good Morning America and excellent commentary by Bryan Preston. This exchange caught my ear:

Obama: It’s almost as if people have voted against their best personal interests because they’ve been so afraid of what could happen, ya know. The terrorists are gonna to get us.

Interviewer: Is it not a real concern, though, terrorism?

Obama: It’s an incredibly important concern, but where’s the balance, you know, is really the question. Where is the balance?

Balance. What is she talking about? When in a fight for the right to take your very next breath, a struggle for your very life, balance is not the goal to be working toward. Considering our opponents, it will never come. Yet Mrs. Obama calls for balance. Re-establish sovereignty and then show mercy if it’s the moral high road Democrats seek. This kind of pompous Chamberlain-esque speech is more than a little disturbing.

The Republicans have shown themselves to be more than a little inept when it comes to waging war against Islamic terrorists. But the face behind the Democratic mask is downright frightening. As a party, they are entirely incapable of protecting the interests of America, including it’s foundations of Freedom and Liberty.

Are Greens Helping Heat Up The Planet?

Look what happened here. The environmentalists where on the verge of ending whaling. (H/T Instapundit)

So what went wrong?

One theory, explored in the BBC World Service’s One Planet programme, is that the environmental movement pushed too hard; that its strident calls helped to alienate Japan at the very point where it was prepared to abandon whaling, and to remove a key bargaining tool from the US armoury.

Did the environmental movement harpoon its own ambitions?

I strongly suspect this attitude is poised to rain havoc on the global warming cause. But hey! Al Gore snagged himself a purty golden doll. Feelin’ the love, feelin’ the love…


Monday Morning Iris



Blog Haiku #20

The dog and her bone
The bird at the feeder.


Distinctions That Make A Point

It began with a post by Glenn Reynolds on InstaPundit:

THE ANSWER TO THE EXAMINER’S QUESTION [“And for once wouldn’t it be refreshing to see a college president show some real backbone when faced with unreasonable demands from activist minority students seeking exclusive privileges?” – GPE] IS SIMPLE: It’s because people are afraid they’ll blow things up.

Sooner or later, you know, fundamentalist Christians are going to pick up on this lesson, engage in similar behavior, and make similar demands. Because, apparently, it works fine.

To which Bryan Preston posting at took exception:

But he’s wrong that “fundamentalist Christians” are going to take this as a cue to start up their own terrorism to get what they want. And he’s wrong because he starts with an error on the basics: Namely, that Christianity and Islam aren’t the same thing, don’t believe the same things and don’t teach the same things. The foundational texts of the two faiths are very different, and the differences make all the difference in the world.

Reynolds replies that Preston has, quite simply, missed the central idea, he has missed the point Reynolds was making.

Preston correctly points out the differences between Islam and Christianity. But the heart of the matter is deeper than religion. Preston seems to be ignoring fundamental human nature. I suspect Reynolds is thinking in terms of logical conclusions whereas Preston is thinking in terms of faith and ideology. That’s the distinction I see.

I have to agree with Reynolds. My take away from Reynolds’ first post was that, indeed, the fundamental Islamists are ahead of the curve in getting what they want through violence and that one way (take note, I said ONE WAY) that can turn around is if other groups begin to employ similar terror tactics. These groups need not be religious in nature. In fact, Robert Spencer has made the arguement that Islamism is as much a political and social system as it is a religious faith. Reynolds could have made his point by writing “Sooner or later, you know, the Marx Brothers are going to pick up on this lesson, engage in similar behavior, and make similar demands. Because, apparently, it works fine.”

But context is everything. The thought of the Marx Brothers turning violent is laughable. Violent Christians, not so much. Preston concedes this point:

If you want to talk about the Crusades, well, they were defensive wars against imperialist Muslims who were spreading Islam by the sword.

At what point does Preston think Christians (or other faiths, for that matter) will begin to conclude a defensive posture is the needed response to the contemporary imperialist Muslim agenda? Never? His post, aside from seeming to speak for all Christians, suggests Christians will never press to violence. I believe he is mistaken. I’ve certainly had my share if experiences with Christians who’s fervor and “passion” had me making mental note of the fastest escape route. I believe anyone is capable of violence. And I believe there is an undefined critical mass for any group of people after which they will find it quite easy to turn violent. It would perhaps be fair to say that critical mass for Christians is significantly higher than it is for Muslims, nonetheless, it no doubt exists.

An early memory of mine is a picture of Thich Quang Duc, the Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy intersection in downtown Saigon, Vietnam, in 1963. He sought to “bring attention to the repressive policies of the Catholic Diem regime that controlled the South Vietnam.” Years later, as I began my own Buddhist practice, this picture came up in conversation following a Zen sesshin I had just completed. I remarked, “I could never do that, set myself on fire.” A senior student replied quite matter-of-fact, “Sure you could. With a strong enough meditation practice, you could.” This struck me in a way that stayed with me and years later I understood. Yes, with a strong enough belief, or will or nerve or call it what you like, the most unlikely of people are capable of the most unlikely of behaviors. My understanding of how such beliefs take hold was further clarified as I worked my way up to Sandan rank in Aikido.

Most people do not understand aggression or violence. And those who don’t often give strong, scary emotions and behaviors blanket labels like “bad” and “evil” and make sanctimonious declarations that they themselves are free from such base drives. The more laughable among them become legislators and work to establish magical laws designed to rid the community of the “bad” and “evil.” They don’t know what they don’t know.

To Bryan Preston: Threatened and pushed far enough, yes, they will.

[Edit History]


#1 – I made note that if other groups made use of violence to force their agenda as effectively as the fundamental Islamists, you would begin to see concessions made to those groups. Some pro-life advocates have done this as well as groups like the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front. So far, what is different is the tactical scale and that is certainly an area where the fundamental Islamists have raised the bar. What worked for the eco-terrorists in 1998, for example, barely rates as a news item these days given the carnage, gore and destruction served up by the Islamic terrorists on a global scale.

However, there is undoubtedly a tipping point at which Joe Citizen will begin to take matters into his own hands to protect his property and family. I wouldn’t expect this to be some grand declaration. Rather a quite shift.

As far as Christians are concerned, I’ve known many to have made transgressions with the aim of protecting their own interests and with the understanding their sins could be absolved in the confessional or by prayer with their minister. And the ones I’m thinking of weren’t even life threating situations. Do I fault them for this? Not necessarily (assuming their transgressions do not break any of society’s laws.) The basic instincts of human nature are poorly understood by most and the human intellect is easily overpowered by emotions such as fear and anger. It takes training and practice to keep your wits about you in a storm such as a bomb blast in a public area. This is why I think Preston overreaches in his claim that Christians won’t turn violent. I think Preston has what it takes to keep his cool under dire stress. But it is naive to presuppose his strengths are derived exclusively from a common faith and project his capabilities upon others who do not have his training and experience. I would be hesitant to deny those around me the humility to discover their weaknesses and the requisite space to grow and learn.

#2 – Grammar fixes.

They Chose…Poorly

What freaky non-reality are our educators swimming in before class?

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — Staff members of an elementary school staged a fictitious gun attack on students during a class trip, telling them it was not a drill as the children cried and hid under tables.

“The children were in that room in the dark, begging for their lives, because they thought there was someone with a gun after them,” said Brandy Cole, whose son went on the trip.

Principal Catherine Stephens declined to say whether the staff members involved would face disciplinary action, but said the situation “involved poor judgment.”

What’s next? Push the kids in front of a moving bus that stops just in time so they get that all valuable learning about evil, dangerous buses? How about forcing their hands on a stove burner that’s just rigged to look hot? Assistant Principal Don Bartch said this was intended as a “learning experience.” Just what were they expecting the kids to learn? Fear and terror as a way of life? Principal Stephens is right. Sadly, she probably fails to realize it involves years of poor judgment on the part of educators stretching back decades.

All content copyright © 1994 - Gregory Paul Engel, All Rights Reserved. The content or any portion thereof from this web site may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever without the written consent of Gregory Paul Engel. Queries may be sent to greg dot engel at javazen dot com.

No posts for this category or search criteria.