"You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point." (from "All About Eve," 20th Century Fox, 1950)

My Kingdom for a Cogent Defnition

By Cyberquill 06/22/20172 Comments

Certain concepts, it seems, were cooked up by online content creators for the sole purpose of riling up that place known as “the Internet,” as in “the Internet erupts with outrage over [insert furor du jour].”

You can spot such concepts in that they are generally ill-defined and laden with half-baked inconsistencies, leaving it to the Internet itself to iron out the kinks until, at some point, an approximation of coherence may (or may not) emerge from the muddle.

As a shining example, let’s take a look at this barrel of drugged trout—thanks to the late David Foster Wallace for the foregoing locution—known as “cultural appropriation.”

So some company releases a poster (an ad of some sort) showing three non-Native-American ladies, including a Caucasian one, rocking war bonnets.

The Internet erupts with outrage. War bonnets, it insists, belong to the indigenous, and no one else has … Read More →

The Enemy Within

By Cyberquill 06/05/20175 Comments

Donald J. Trump’s “travel ban,” which he has now officially doubled down on calling it, may well be a most ineffective anti-terrorism measure for a variety of reasons, not to mention of questionable constitutionality.

Hands-down the oddest argument against it, though, is the oft-floated prediction that such a ban would do little to prevent the escalating problem of “home-grown” attacks, since these attacks are carried out not by immigrants and refugees from Muslim nations but by the—already natural-born—offspring of immigrants and refugees from Muslim nations.

On what logic is pointing to the threat posed by the second generation a rational argument in favor of admitting more of the first?

There are, of course, rational and compelling reasons for admitting more of the first, such as basic humanity and a moral obligation to help, even at the expense of sacrificing some of our physical security by offering others far more physical security than they’re used to. It may not be entirely outlandish to ask why we, owing to nothing but the geographical birth lottery, should be exempt from experiencing an occasional taste of the kind of violence that is par for the course in other parts of the world. What makes us so special that we ought to have a right to enjoy a level of safety unattainable to others?

But let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that we are not sacrificing some of our security by extending a helping hand to a people an ever so tiny percentage of whom appear extraordinarily susceptible to the peculiar notion that blowing up a mall will take them to paradise. (Keep in mind that one eighth of one percent is 1,200, and consider the national security challenge posed by even a paltry few hundred jihadist time bombs merrily plotting away in your country, be it the size of Germany or as large as the United States.)

In related news, earlier today, British Prime Minister Theresa May, campaigning for the general … Read More →

The Blogmaster at the Microphone

By Cyberquill 05/15/20172 Comments

The Barking of the Sheep

By Cyberquill 05/09/2017Leave a Comment

The other day, while channel-flipping my way through a commercial break, the TV screen suddenly filled up with dozens of bleating quadrupeds.

Because these critters looked so very adorable, I lingered awhile. I had come upon a documentary on free-range sheep farming.

A bearded shepherd was being interviewed about the joys and hardships of making a living off the raising of sheep in this day and age, and doing so organically, as he claimed to use neither pesticides nor herbicides on his pastures. He also talked about the emotional bond he had with his animals and how he knew each one of them individually. And about the skyrocketing rent per acre of pasture and the dark cloud this cast over the long-term sustainability of his profession.

Anyhow, cavorting among the sheep were what looked and sounded like a couple of cute dogs—I forget what breed, but some sort of herding dogs—whose job it was to … Read More →

Farewell to the Factor

By Cyberquill 04/22/20172 Comments

Holy macaroni!!!

They really did it. They really spiked my favorite show.

The reality of it won’t fully sink in until, come Monday, a program other than The O’Reilly Factor will occupy the 8 P.M. slot on Fox News.

Some ten years ago, I briefly had a premium membership on billoreilly.com. Alas, I soon got terminated and banned for life for having supposedly violated the site’s terms of use as laid down by Bill O’Reilly.

Now the man finds himself terminated as per his erstwhile employer’s new and improved terms of service. Oh well. Karma’s a bitch.

Sadly, though, by silencing its loudest moderate voice, Fox News has taken its largest step yet on its journey toward becoming unwatchable to anyone left of … Read More →

United Airlines — Try Fly With Us!

By Cyberquill 04/18/2017Leave a Comment

Presumably, most people will agree that airlines ought to operate in a manner so as to preclude right out of the gate (pun intended) the need to ever kick ticketed passengers off a flight due to overbooking or in order to accommodate deadheading crew members, as was reportedly the case in last week’s melodrama that resulted in a few missing teeth and a broken nose for one of four spontaneously deplaned individuals, not to mention a splitting PR headache for United Airlines.

In the unfortunate event, however, that an airline’s greed or mismanagement, or unforeseeable circumstances unrelated to ethical or managerial misfeasance, do necessitate the expulsion of one or more head of cattle from their class, what to do if the search for volunteers comes up empty or short no matter how many carrots are being dangled before the traveling livestock, and if one or more of the head ultimately selected for culling mulishly resist all verbally delivered entreaties to take … Read More →

Why the Case Against Voter IDs is a Case for Free Firearms

By Cyberquill 12/03/20164 Comments

Presidential election day is upon us … again!

Tomorrow (as viewed relative to this post’s date of publication), for the third time this year, Austria will take a stab at holding a successful runoff election. Counting the initial election that resulted in the runoff, Dec 4th will be Austria’s fourth presidential election day 2016, i.e., my personal fifth.

The result of the first runoff in May, won by nominally-independent-Green-Party candidate Alexander Van der Bellen, was subsequently undone and holden for naught by the Austrian Supreme Court on grounds of multiple procedural violations during the counting of the votes. The repeat runoff, scheduled for October, was called off preemptively after it had been discovered that some of the return envelopes mailed out with the absentee ballots had failed to seal properly due to faulty glue.

Whether Austria will come through on Dec 4th remains to be seen. Either way, given that the country has been doing fine sans president since July, and the point of having one waxes more elusive by the day, no one’s in a rush to get this … Read More →

Electoral Woes

By Cyberquill 11/17/20162 Comments

The morning after election night 2012—Barack Obama had just secured himself a second term in the White House—then-future President-elect Donald J. Trump, in one of his many fatuous tweet-from-the-hip outbursts, apparently believing (in error) that Mitt Romney had bagged the popular vote, declared the electoral college “a disaster for a democracy.”

Following the 2016 election, which indeed saw the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania pass into the hands of the runner-up in the never-fought contest for the nationwide popular vote, the president-elect appears to have softened his position, now calling the electoral college a “genius system.” Come election night 2020, in the as-(un)likely-as-Trump-being-elected-president-in-the-first-place event that President Trump is denied a second term in spite of reaping the popular vote then, odds are he’ll revert to his 2012 assessment of the EC.

The human propensity for failing to anticipate that one day the shoe might end up on the other foot never … Read More →

Proof that the U.S. Election is NOT Rigged

By Cyberquill 10/28/20162 Comments

At least not in favor of the Democratic candidate for president.

Earlier today, I stopped by my local post office with the intent to fulfill my patriotic duty as a currently exiled American and mail off my absentee ballot. The clerk placed my official election mail envelope, which contained the slightly smaller envelope that contained my ballot, on the scales and matter-of-factly announced the crushing verdict: €7.00! (That’s $7.64, as per today’s conversion rate.)

Now, if I were a currently exiled citizen of one of the battleground states like Florida or Ohio, where my vote could conceivably make a difference one way or another, it would be a different story. But as someone with an income of zero and a personal net worth of somewhere in the neighborhood of a half grand in credit card debt that I haven’t managed to pay down in over five years, I find myself disinclined to blow seven bucks and change on postage for casting a symbolic vote in a state—the Great State of New York, in my case—so deeply blue that Hillary’s bound to … Read More →

Terror – Your Verdict

By Cyberquill 10/22/20166 Comments

Defying direct orders from his superiors to not engage, a German air force major takes it upon himself to shoot down a hijacked commercial jetliner headed for a packed soccer stadium in Munich. By taking the deliberate action to kill the 164 people aboard, he presumably saves 70,000 lives in the stadium. Nonetheless, the major is put on trial for 164 counts of murder.

This sums up the premise of a televised courtroom drama, titled Terror—Ihr Urteil (“Terror—Your Verdict”), that aired in German-speaking countries earlier this week. At its conclusion, the home viewers were invited to play jury. In Germany and Austria, 86.9% of those who called or texted in their verdicts voted to acquit, as did 84% in Switzerland.

The case presents us with a vexing moral dilemma: can it ever be justified to kill few to save many? Under what circumstances, if any, does it behoove us to play God, as it were?

Modern ethics teaches that every human life is infinitely precious. It follows that two human lives—or a … Read More →

Piling on The Don

By Cyberquill 10/16/20162 Comments

If, as one female MSNBC morning anchor has stated, the fear of being branded a liar indeed clocks in as the primary reason why many women hesitate to come forward with sexual assault allegations, then three weeks before a presidential election seems like the absolutely worst time to open up about having been indecently assailed by one of the candidates, for at that point every self-styled assault victim airing such tales is practically guaranteed to be branded a liar, a dupe, and an attention strumpet by up to half of the American electorate.

One lady, sobbing in the arms of damsel-in-high-profile-distress counselor in chief Gloria Allred, a gaggle of microphones and cameras pointed at her as she sniveled her way through her abuse story, said she had decided to speak up because she “just wanted to be able to sleep at night.” So apparently, the poor woman hadn’t slept since 2007 (the year of the alleged assault), and that nine-year-long sleep deficit had finally … Read More →

To Wall or Not to Wall

By Cyberquill 10/11/20164 Comments

Mikhail Baryshnikov said that “forty two years ago I left a country that built walls to come to a place without them.” Echoing this theme, President Obama, in his farewell address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, warned that “a nation ringed by walls would only imprison itself.”

When you’re in prison, you are indeed surrounded by walls. Oddly enough, though, when you’re at home in your living room, you are also surrounded by walls. And if you’re like most people, the walls of your house or your apartment feel very different from prison walls—but how come? If walls are walls, as the ballerino and the president appear to imply, then why don’t all walls imprison?

Obviously, different walls serve different functions. Prison walls prevent you from getting out. The walls in your home, by contrast, in conjunction with one or more doors for which you hold the keys, not only permit you to enter and exit at your discretion but also protect you from unbidden visitors by … Read More →

How Native to Florida are Burmese Pythons?

By Cyberquill 06/21/201639 Comments

Alligators are native to Florida. Burmese pythons are not … or are they?

While pinpointing the genesis of the Sunshine State’s burgeoning Burmese python population has proven elusive, it appears that at some point in the second half of the 20th century an unspecified number of imported pet pythons either escaped or were dumped into the Everglades.

First sightings date back to the 1980s.

Perhaps some recovering reptile aficionado woke up one day and resolved to trade his private constrictor collection for something a little more low maintenance. Because Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet, googling “how to properly dispose of pet pythons” wasn’t an option, and so he loaded his scaly friends onto his pickup, drove them out into the Floridian wetlands, where he assumed—quite correctly, as it turns out (and to the detriment of the local mammalian fauna)—they’d feel reasonably at home, bid the slithering knot of serpents a heartfelt … Read More →

The Donald and the Judge

By Cyberquill 06/08/201610 Comments

Speaker Paul Ryan, reacting to dontopedalogist*-in-chief Donald Trump’s assertion that Mexican-American Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s judicial stance in the Trump University matter derives from anti-Trump bias born out of a general Mexican displeasure with the specter of a Southern border wall that would complicate the evasion of immigration check points for those that prefer to cross the U.S.-Mexican border on the q.t., declared that “claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment.”

* Dontopedalogy—the art and practice of putting one’s foot in one’s mouth

As we speak, pundits and politicians are practically falling over one another decrying Trump’s comments about Judge Curiel as “racist.”

But how is it necessarily “racist” to call into question a person’s impartiality because of their national descent, prejudiced and baseless as doing so may be?

Last time I checked, Mexico was a country, not a race. Just as Austria is a country, not a race. It seems … Read More →

Defining “Survivor”

By Cyberquill 05/30/20164 Comments

Late last year, Hillary Clinton tweeted that “[e]very survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”

Who could possibly argue with that?

Ms Clinton’s pronouncement is as non-controversial as it is cleverly phrased. One expects nothing less from a lawyer/politician than to excel at crafting statements that say one thing but seem to say another, so that at some later point s/he can refer to having ” very clearly” articulated either this or that.

Of course, every survivor of sexual assault—or any assault, for that matter—deserves to be believed and supported.

The tricky part, which the tweet so cagily dodges, is to distinguish between assault survivors and individuals that made bogus assault claims (and who, therefore, are not assault survivors as pertains to the alleged assault(s) at issue).

Although the tweet sounds like suggesting that every person purporting to be a survivor of sexual assault … Read More →