On Masking and Child Development

 

Throughout the pandemic (and before) one of my favorite commentators on parenting has been Emily Oster, an economist with an eye on data and parenting. She uses her expertise to analyze how to best make parenting decisions, and her books on pregnancy and parenting from an evidenced-based perspective are invaluable. As too have her contributions been during the COVID-era, much to the chagrin of COVIDians.

Oster writes a newsletter on data and parenting in addition to her books and opinions pieces across the journalism world. Today’s tackled an interesting study on a drastic decline in IQ for babies born admid the pandemic, which I haven’t spoken about it because, like Oster, I was wary of the dramatic conclusions it reached.

So, What’s the Number?

 

What’s the number of Americans still stranded in Afghanistan and fearing for their lives? The State Department that couldn’t specify a number for two weeks now says that only 250 Americans are left. Not 247, not 252. 250. A rounded number. Secretary Blinkin laid the groundwork a few days ago that many Americans who are left in Afghanistan have dual citizenship and extended family, and so may not want to leave. Other State Department aides conveyed to members of Congress that there could be up to 4,100 Americans in Afghanistan but in the other provinces and provincial capitals and not near Kabul

So, what’s the number, and is the Biden administration attempting to minimize the actual number? And if the Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS-K begin parading hundreds or thousands of Americans in front of cameras – demanding ransom beyond the 250 Americans specified what will be the reaction of the news media and the American public? And would Democrats in Congress be forced to remove Biden from office?

From the New York Post on August 17, 2021, Defense Department spokesman John Kirby said this (emphasis mine):

Americans Condemned Afghans to Death

 

Afghan BiometricsI was vaguely aware of the extensive biometric data collection by American forces in Afghanistan. I never imagined it was so terribly efficient. Reportedly, up to 80% of the Afghan population, presumably adult population, have been captured with iris, fingerprint or DNA data and some level of notation about the individual. This was supposed to help deny Taliban agents access to villages, as they would pop up as strangers, not in the system as locals. The data became a basis of arrest, trial, and conviction of bombers or anyone who got his fingerprints on a piece that went into a bomb. AND. This information was never safeguarded, never compartmentalized, never rigged for U.S. remote data destruction. This is an intelligence and human catastrophe well beyond any managed by any of our alphabet soup agencies in the Cold War. The biometric data may well prove more harmful than all the tradition military equipment we left behind, written about and depicted in cool graphics.

Now the Taliban’s most sophisticated wing, the Haqqani Network, backed by Pakistani ISI intelligence advisers, is going door to door in Afghanistan. We may have abandoned thousands of hand-held portable scanners, with which everyone can be checked against the master database, that we allowed the Afghan “national” government to nominally control, in a Kabul office now in the hands of the Taliban and their Pakistani senior partners. The results are terrifying and were entirely foreseeable by those running the program right up to the final days.

The massive database and query program should have been rigged with a self-destruct routine that should have been executed at least the night our senior military brass directed the abandonment of Bagram Air Base. Public Intelligence, an independent watchdog organization with original reporting cited in major world media stories, wrote about the program, without flagging the massive risk, in 2014. Public Intelligence writers’ main concern in “Identity Dominance” was the apparently unchallengeable, but uncorroborated, testimony a fingerprint had in a young Afghan man’s trial for conspiracy in a bomb-making plot.

Natural Immunities’ Genetic Suspects

 

The wide spectrum of symptoms and variance of severity would indicate that COVID-19 affects us all a little differently.  This will range from those horribly predisposed to viral infection to the rare few that simply don’t even get the virus.  In the middle is most of us who are susceptible to varying degrees.  If you had it and recovered then: Congratulations! You now have what should be the 2nd most coveted of all the immunities: naturally-acquired immunity.  The best if you could win the genetic lottery would be to never catch COVID at all; pure natural immunity.

Humanity’s survival through the ages has depended upon our ability to defeat viruses, bacteria, parasites and a variety of other microbiological hazards that you cannot see but certainly know are there.  Prior to modern antibiotics, infections would regularly ravage the population; the Black Death is estimated to have killed about a third of Europe, and that’s the moderate estimate.  Masks were popular then too but they were far more fashionable.

The Vital Stone of Faith

 

For a while now, I have been attending what is referred to as a “cowboy church”. That is not an announcement of any great change of direction on my part. I have actually attended churches of one kind or another all my life and none have caved in from my presence, so far. I believe a couple might have cracked a little but all have stood throughout.

It is a larger group than I normally seek out but even my highly dominant hermit gene has felt comfortable there. As a friend of mine of similar background observed to me, there might not be that many “cowboys” there in the sense we were raised but there is a goodly cross-section of sincere souls of every stripe who delight in a straight-forward message not gift wrapped in directionless ceremony and pre-approved doctrine. It is genuine. And with a new covered arena and several events in it weekly, it is smelling a little more cowboy all the time. Even if most there might not realize you measure the leg length of your jeans by where the bottoms strike the spurs when the foot is actually in a stirrup, not how it looks on a dance floor or just standing around.

The minister (or preacher if you prefer) only has a high school diploma to hang on his wall. You don’t hang real-life experience or studied conviction on a nail. His beard comes to about the third button on his shirt and yeah he has a tat or two. He has also fought in the ring, been an Army Ranger, a police sergeant, and traveled into the darker reaches of another continent to not just share a message but to refine it with new experiences.

Decision-Making

 

When it comes to making decisions, people are funny. There is almost a universal instinct to hesitate, to insist on more information, to get a second or third opinion – to delay. People certainly do not want to be held responsible for the decisions that they do make, and so most people, even those in a position of decisiveness… defer.

We can see how these mistakes, these cultural reflexes to delay, can lead to far-reaching, and even catastrophic outcomes. Here is one famous and disastrous example:

An Update on LtCol Scheller

 

Below is a link to his most recent YouTube video.  Absolutely nothing about it surprises me, from his request that people who want to set up GoFundMes on his behalf donate instead to the families of the thirteen servicemen and women who died in Afghanistan this week, to his concern (sounds like) that his wife may not be down for this particular struggle.

And especially not his reaction to one of his early commanding officer’s remarks on his original Facebook post, LtCol Hobbs (not sure of the spelling–of Hobbs–pretty sure I got the LtCol part right).  As Scheller tells it, LtCol Hobbs once stood up for something he thought was right, but did it within the system, and yet ended up relieved of his command and “shuffled out the door without really effecting any change.”  I’m guessing that’s a lesson that Scheller stored in his memory banks forever.

Although it seems that LtCol Scheller disagrees with Hobbs on many things, he still says, “Sir, I love you like a father,” and he goes on to say that Hobbs, on (I think it was LinkedIn) said yesterday “If Stuart Scheller was honorable, he would resign his commission.”

Author Sam Harris Shows Biden Endorsers How to Apologize

 

You have probably heard of the author, entrepreneur, and atheist Sam Harris. His book, “The End of Faith,” was both interesting, illustrative, and rather depressing. It is beneficial to read books by people you disagree with, even at fundamental levels. I still respect his work. He’s brilliant and successful.

Recently, I posted about more than 70 former Republican national security advisors who signed a statement mostly in opposition to Donald Trump’s reelection last year but endorsing Joe Biden with these prescient words:

Joe Lied, People Died

 

You know this guy—the fellow who seems to be embedded in your life because he’s connected to your group of friends. Or he’s the member of your family that everyone tolerates because no one knows how to keep him away from family events. He can be very funny and charming at times and get along with people, but there’s one thing that people cannot stand about him: he’s a liar. We all know someone just like that.

Some of us think he’s been lying since he spoke his first words. Early on, the lies were probably innocent enough: embellishing a story, making it funnier, more dangerous, more intriguing. When he got “oohs” and “aahs” for those stories, he decided that he could get more attention by dressing up his stories even more: he’d make up stories whole-cloth. Or he’d lie to avoid looking bad or getting into trouble. By the time he reached his teen-age years, lying became natural for him. People rarely questioned his stories, either because they had no idea how easily he lied, or they were reluctant to challenge him, or they simply had given up on learning the truth. So they just went along. When people commiserated about his chronic lying, someone inevitably would say, “That’s just Joe.”

The Challenge of Affluence

 

If we intend to remain a self-governing republic, we are in a tough spot; the toughest of our lifetime. It got this way in just a matter of months, but it has been building for at least the last four generations. On a trip through centuries past, we can see other republics fall into what has been referred to as the “dustbin of history.” If we join them, it will be of our own making.

That trip through history will pass by every nation, culture or civilization that has risen and fallen. We are special among them for several reasons; we are superior to them in almost any measure that can be thought. But simple false pride and laziness may be what will put us among their ranks as the fallen.

I Stand as an Ally to the Vaccine Holdouts

 

I’m vaccinated but I don’t ask, as have many vaccinated Facebook users, that you “respect my decision.” Vaccinated people like me get plenty of respect already, thanks: from public health officials, the political class, employers, and the media, just to name a few. No, the lay of the cultural landscape makes it abundantly clear that it’s not the vaccinated but the unvaccinated who aren’t getting enough respect.

At the end of the day, each individual must make a cost-benefit analysis based on a constellation of variables such as age, health, pregnancy, family history, science, and, yes, anecdotes from sources you trust. Different people will come to different conclusions and behave accordingly. This is how it should be – must be – in a free society.

People question the vaccines for a whole host of reasons, some of them legitimate in my view, others not. I don’t think the vaccines’ image for being safe and efficacious – again, justified in my view – is burnished by shaming those who question them, those who take a wait-and-see approach, or decide to avoid them altogether. This is to say nothing of mandating them.

An Exuberant Quickie: When Local Government Programs Work – and in this Case Immediately

 

Here in Lake County, CA, many of our wildfires are caused by vehicular fires. Now that we are deep into the final months of what has been an extremely dry year, even a simple roadside fire can morph into one that takes out countless acreage and buildings, and often injures and kills. Additionally, the huge amount of fire support services takes up many man-hours and costs the state a pretty penny.

This morning, the South Lake County Fire District had a program set up to offer free fire extinguishers for people to come in and take for their household or car.

Kodachrome

 

There are only two things I know for sure about this picture.  According to the calendar on the wall, it was taken in December of 1957.  And I found it in the collection of Kodachrome slides that I scanned after my Aunt died a few years ago.

I have one educated guess – it was taken during a hunting trip in northern (?) Wisconsin, presumably by my uncle who died more than 25 years ago.

A Memoir of Endurance and Survival

 

In January 1945 Major Donald J. Humphrey commanded a B-29 Superfortress. During a 1900-mile mission from India to bomb Singapore, his bomber was shot down over Malaya. Humphrey and four other members of the crew of Postville Express successfully parachuted out of the dying bomber. The rest of the crew failed to escape.

“8 Miraculous Months in the Malayan Jungle: A WWII Pilot’s True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival,” edited by Donald J. “DJ” Humphrey II, tell what happened next.

They landed in Malaya, then occupied by the Japanese. Had they been found by the Japanese or the pro-Japanese militia they would likely have been executed or spent the rest of their war in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The Japanese even offered a $10,000 reward for every Allied airman turned over to them.

No Quarter

 

Sorry, you Biden-puffing Democrat piece of work.  I don’t care if you ran through Hell and put out the fires with a shovel.

Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), an Iraq War veteran and progressive Democrat, has refused to apologize to critics — including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) — for his decision to take an unauthorized trip to Kabul to witness the Biden administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal operations firsthand — and he continued to blast the Biden administration in a tell-all interview with New York Magazine.

Voices from the Past

 

General Patton, Corps and Division Commanders, 4th Armored Division C.P., England, June 1944.

These are the generals of the Third Army. Patton stands in front. My great uncle Brigadier General Julius Easton Slack stands in the back row, second from the right. This photo was taken in June 1944 in England shortly before the landing at Utah Beach in July.

I Flunked Babyfeeding 101

 

On Fridays, our youngest daughter brings our grandson over for a visit.  Yesterday, I came downstairs and found neutral oberver feeding the little guy in the kitchen.  So, I wander over and she says, “Wanna feed him?”  I replied, “Sure!”

I took the spoon, scooped up a glop of stuff that looked as if it was left over from the filming of The Exorcist, and guided it into his mouth.  He gummed it a couple of times, then it started running out his mouth onto his bib.

A Day in the Lives of Monsieur et Madame Mak Sean

 

They had her kneeling on the shore facing the water. “I was waiting for the blow” recounted my grandmother of that mid-December day in 1978. 

A few days before, grandma and several other women in the village were ordered to the river to make prohok, as it was prohok season. The morning of that fateful day, one of the women was granted permission to go home later in the day. Grandma stashed away three fish carcasses to send along with the woman to my mother and her siblings. Mom and her brothers could salt and grill them to eat in the morning, all in secret of course. The village official found out and the security force brought grandma to the shoreline. As recounted later by survivors, one method of single killing, if one lived near a river, was to bash the head or slash the throat of the victim and push him/her into the water (bullets were too valuable). Another method was to take the victim to the middle of the river and drown him/her (happened to the daughter of our family’s friends, her father watched quietly from the shore). 

On LtCol Scheller

 

I completely understand why it was necessary to relieve him of duty.  What chaps my hide (channeling the late Boss Mongo) is a comparison between LtCol Scheller and this person:

Taliban Saves 104,000 lives?

 

Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said that, “because of coordination with the Taliban, we’ve been able to evacuate more than 104,000 people — save 104,000 lives.” The question is, who were they saved from?

When I was in eighth grade a bunch of my friends went to a classmate’s house that had an indoor pool. Swimming in the winter was a lot of fun. One of my friends stayed in the shallow end and when asked explained that couldn’t swim. I thought that was nonsense, so I threw him in the deep end. Guess what? He really couldn’t swim. I had to dive in and pull him out. I would not be lying if I said I saved his life. Of course, were it not for my actions, his life would not have been in danger in the first place.

Biden Should Be Impeached

 

In an excellent article posted at The Federalist this afternoon, that publication’s Political Editor, the solid, responsible, and highly respected analyst and commentator John Daniel Davidson, has called for the impeachment of “President” Biden.

The piece starts with a brief summary of the latest grotesqueries over the past few days and shows, in a few words, just how massive the collapse of the Administration has been:

Quote of the Day: Why is History Important?

 

It is beneficial that the next generation learns about the past for the same reasons that it is important that you remember your childhood.  The quintessential question of “what next!”  How will we as a society go into the future without knowledge of the past? If we don’t know what we, as Americans, are, how will we know what we will become?–Miss Peachy

The above was my 13-year-old granddaughter’s spontaneous written response to a question on a pop quiz given by her teacher on the first day of eighth-grade classes.  It was the first in-person instruction she’d attended in about 18 months.

She can’t have been entirely gruntled by the experience, as at some point during that first day, she sent her mother the following text:

Real American Heroes

 

Kudos to ABC News for reporting true news that hurts their party. A group of volunteers, retired and active duty special operators and intelligence field officers, has apparently launched a successful covert mission that rescued 500 Afghans who had helped the American special operations community over the past 20 years. Men and their wives and children were quietly moved through the streets and then entered the Kabul airport perimeter through sewer culverts. These American heroes were not in uniform and apparently were not carrying weapons as they bluffed their way past Taliban checkpoints with their protectees. The mission name: “Pineapple Express.”

As of Thursday morning, the group said it had brought as many as 500 Afghan special operators, assets and enablers and their families into the airport in Kabul overnight, handing them each over to the protective custody of the U.S. military.

[…]

He Is Not Fit To Command

 

The “He” in the title is President Biden. He is not alone. There are mayors, and prosecutors in the United States that are not fit for the offices they hold.

Political rallies in Portland that took place recently featured two gunfights. The failure to deal with violence, and prosecute criminals over the past year is destroying Portland. The failure to allow police officers to enforce the law, and the failure to prosecute criminal behavior is not just leading to disaster, it is a disaster.