New Sheriff’s Brother Caught Stealing Campaign Signs

wolfethiefDon’t like the Constitutional right of freedom of speech? We’ll you’re out of luck if you live in the United States. But there still are a few things you can do to help deny freedom of speech to your political opponents: steal their campaign signs.

Carrying out such acts denotes questionable moral character. When it happens one assumes the culprits are teenagers who don’t know any better. But recently a middle-aged man named Erik Kleiner got busted for doing so. Get this: he’s the brother of the candidate running for office. Get this as well: that candidate was running for, of all things, sheriff.

Her name is Stacy Kincaid, who just ran for sheriff of Fairfax County, Virginia. Her brother’s actions paid off. She won!

Yes, I know – we’re not responsible for the actions of our siblings. And she sure as heck had better not have known about his antics prior to his arrest. Had she known about them and not turned him in would be grounds for stepping down.

But stealing campaign signs was only part of it. Her opponent, Bryan Wolfe, lamented that in addition to campaign sign thefts, his car and home property were vandalized, undoubtedly by Kincaid’s supporters.

That’s a very disturbing development – it’s more typical of how political campaigns are run in third world countries, rather than modern-day America let alone one of the most affluent counties in the country. “This stuff happens in the Wild West or the South, I kinda thought it wouldn’t happen in this race,” said Wolfe.

Meantime, if Mr. Kleiner wanted his sister to win in order to more effectively combat crime in Northern Virginia, he certainly did not set a good example for those toying with the idea of thievery.

The Cove, Four Years On

dolphinIn 2009 The Cove was filmed, an Oscar-winning documentary that depicts a heart-wrenching phenomenon: the dolphin slaughter off the coast of Taiji, Japan, where the ocean waters literally turn bright red with mammalian blood.

They’re apparently killed for their meat. Few people had ever witnessed the mass killings. They take place in a cove that’s closed off to the public. But a heroic team of dolphin advocates finally brought the horror to light. Risking life and limb not to mention arrest, they managed to slip into the cove in the dead of night and install high-def camcorders disguised as rocks in and around the area. (Full disclosure: Joe Chisholm, my cousin, was part of the team and is depicted in the film. Way to go Joe!)

It’s a powerful film, and seems to have had an effect. Prior to the film some 1,500 dolphins were killed each year. Last year that number was down to about 900. That’s a lot of progress, but still 900 too many.

This topic opens up deep philosophical questions. Why are we so concerned about the slaughter of hundreds of dolphins in Japan, when in America and elsewhere billions of cows, pigs and lots of other animals are slaughtered each year for their meat? Do dolphins have more inherent “worth” or specialness than other animals? Dolphins are considered to be one of the smartest non-human animals, but so are pigs, crows, rats and squirrels.

Maybe it’s dolphins’ “cuteness” that makes them so special to humans. And/or maybe it’s because they bond with humans so well, like dogs. After all, we react with equal revulsion when mass slaughters of dogs are carried out. Of course, those animals’ ability to bond with humans doesn’t make them any more “special” than other animals on an objective level – only from a human’s point of view.

But that’s OK. It’s better save the lives of some animals than none at all. And after all, perhaps after activists succeed in preventing the killing of dolphins, they’ll turn to saving the lives of other animal species.

Meantime, assume that all animals have equal inherent worth. In that case the mass killing of other animal species is just as horrible as the mass killing of dolphins. Yet it still goes on by the billions.

For most of humankind life has been nasty, brutish and short. For almost all of animalkind that still holds true, the dolphin slaughter being but one example. But hey, we managed to eliminate for the most part that nastiness, brutishness and shortness for a large portion of us humans. We should try to do the same for a certain portion of animals as well. Dolphins are a good place to start.

National Geographic’s Pseudo-Scientific Centerfold

natgeo-risingseasWhile plausible arguments can be made that anthropogenic global warming is happening, many proponents thereof often resort to demagoguery and pseudoscience. Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and floods, for example, are demagogued to death as signs of global warming, even though the same has been happening since time immemorial.

National Geographic just pulled a whopper in the demagoguery department. Its current feature article is on rising sea levels. There’s a fold-out map, called “If All the Ice Melted,” on what the world would look like if all polar and glacial ice melted – with sea levels some 200 feet higher than present.

The map – which many families will no doubt post up in their homes and many teachers post up in their classrooms – is groundless and very unscientific fear-mongering.

It conveys the impression that if we continue on our current course, the world will look like that at some future date. In fine print they say it could take 5,000 years for all of the ice to melt. But even this is absurd. For one thing, it is estimated that it would take anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 years for all of the ice just on Greenland to melt – and that would raise sea levels by just 20-25 feet. Antarctica, which holds the most ice, isn’t even melting; perhaps that’s because even if global temps rise a bit, it’s so cold there that temps will still remain well below freezing.

More significantly, within a couple of thousand years, we’re due for another ice age. It’s been about 11 or 12 thousand years since the last one and ice ages have been the norm over the past 2.5 million or so years, with “interglacials” such as the one we’re in now lasting around 12,000 years. And with a new ice age, sea levels would drop several hundred feet as happened during the last one.

While someone could speculate that mankind will delay the next ice age due to increased CO2 emissions, the NatGeo article doesn’t go near that – probably because it’s so speculative.

So the NatGeo map is depicting an absurdity.

A scientifically grounded map would depict the likeliest scenario: an ice age a few thousand years hence, with ocean water levels a few hundred feet lower, not higher. In that case they could have mentioned the far less likely scenario of all the ice melting, but then they would have had to argue that mankind will prevent or delay the next ice age through carbon emissions. And they certainly don’t make that argument.

Likewise, their cover graphic of water levels reaching halfway up the Statue of Liberty – some 200 feet above current levels – depicts an absurdity as well.

— update – four months later —

NatGeo finally ran letters to the editor regarding the above cover story. Despite a letter from this observer echoing the above, and I’m sure letters from others making similar points, the magazine had zero letters critical of their cover story. Only only positive letters were featured. Now that’s shoddy journalism.