Iceland's Comfy Jesus

While we're on the subject of Iceland, a Facebook pal writes: "a friend of mine traveled extensively through the country and came across this fresco of a tanned male supermodel Jesus in a woolen turtleneck sweater. In comparison to this vision of The Utter Beyond, Michelangelo's Last Judgment or Bernini's St. Theresa just evaporate into insignificance. I name it Comfy Jesus:"

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Thefts in German Trains and Stations up 25% from 2014 to 2015

German authorities have just released data showing a 25% increase (g) in thefts in German trains and train stations from 2014 to 2015, from 35,800 to 44,800 cases. Even the 2014 number, 35,800, represented a 20% increase from 2013. The authorities blame foreign organized-crime gangs.

You know who this affects? Every able-bodied person in Germany. Millions of Germans use trains every day, and therefore have to enter into areas where thieves are increasingly active, and the government is powerless to stop them. The police can do nothing but issue helpless-sounding tips on how to avoid being targeted.

Another communal public amenity which Germans must use becoming increasingly dangerous, another Nice Thing gone, another data point showing the gradual -- in this case, not so gradual -- decline in living standards in Germany.

Drip, drip, drip.

A lot of Germans are going to ask the perfectly reasonable question: "Why can't our government stop foreign criminal gangs coming into our country to rob us?"

And getting no straight answer from any party except The Irresponsible Populists.


Iceland is a Prosperous American Suburb

If there is one thing the world has enough of, it's "why can't we all be like Iceland?" articles. Here's the latest:

I wanted to know about the kind of society Iceland had cultivated and- what its outlooks were. How did women and men see each other and themselves? What was their character like compared to other countries I had lived in? Were women more confident, men more open-minded, children better cared for? Was life there, in any way, more balanced?

I suspected I would find enlightened ideas that benefit society, not just business, although I found that the two weren’t mutually exclusive. I spoke to innovators across genders in education, health, industry, science and the arts whose ideas exceeded my imagination.

And guess what? The author's gee-whiz tour of Iceland finds all sorts of wonderfully progressive policies. Paid family leave for daddies! Mandatory quotas for women! The world's first openly gay female head of state! Great schools filled with sensitive, caring social-pedagogues! And so on, and so on.

Many will remember probably the most stomach-turning piece of virtue-signaling the world has ever seen -- the Facebook campaign in which 11,000 Icelanders volunteered their homes to Syrian refugees, under the founder's motto: "They are our future spouses, best friends, the next soul mate, a drummer for our children's band, the next colleague, Miss Iceland in 2022, the carpenter who finally finishes the bathroom, the cook in the cafeteria, a fireman, a television host. People of whom we'll never be able to say in the future: 'Your life is worth less than my life.'"

Are you dabbing the second tear of kitsch from your eyes yet?

But guess what? None of those 11,000 virtue-signalers ever had to make good on their promise, and of course they knew that full well, since the government has a cap of a whopping 500 refugees a year.

Whoops! Did I just write 500? Sorry, the actual number is 50. Fifty. Per year.

But the empty promises of all those smug Icelanders earned Iceland yet another round of fawning publicity. The article continues the typical litany of the nauseatingly goody-two-shoes oh-so-gentle progressive paradise:

Icelandic society is proactively striving for gender equality, which sits at the centre of progress, and there are policies in place to promote gender equality in all spheres of society. Many stepping stones have led to the current gender equality legislation, including the use of gender quotas. As proven by the need for affirmative action policies in the USA, we are not yet evolved enough to choose fairly of our own volition.

After this rather sinister aside, the author does point to some of the more gloomy facts about Iceland, including this: "Iceland recently outranked the US in adult obesity (67.1 percent of Icelandic adults are overweight or obese compared to 66.3 percent of US adults)." Ha! Take that, Icelandic self-image!

You know what Iceland is? Iceland is a rich American suburb. (Or a German suburb, for that matter.) The population of Iceland is a laughably miniscule 330,000 people. And Iceland is 93% Icelandic, and 98% Northern European. Further, Iceland's median national IQ is 101, placing it 6th in the world. If you go to any large well-off suburb of the United States, you will see Icelandic living conditions: orderly homes, quiet evenings, honest officials, clean schools, smart students, modern gender roles, almost no violence, nice people, organic food, wooden toys, recycling, wine importers, futuristic espresso machines, tasteful earth-toned natural-fiber clothing, clean-lined architecture, yoga studios, women earning more than men, soccer, the whole nine yards. The one difference will be that the American suburb, although majority white, will still be more ethnically diverse than the Nordic purist's fantasy of Iceland.

Iceland is a fine place. I plan to visit one day, and I'm sure I'll be as enchanted as everyone else seems to be. But the world should stop looking at Iceland for lessons, because Iceland is a suburb, not a model society than can be replicated at will anywhere else.


Other Peoples' Indians; or Why the Soviets Loved James Fenimore Cooper for All the Wrong Reasons

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The Paris Review is first mystified by the Soviet Union's love of American frontier novelist James Fenimore Cooper, but is soon set straight by someone who points to the ideological jockeying it represented:

I was perplexed to learn that the Soviet Union, in its waning days, produced a series of five vivid postage stamps devoted to James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales. It seemed as if some lazy Soviet bureaucrat must’ve made a mistake. Why, after all, would the USSR want to commemorate some of the foundational texts of American lit, especially when Natty Bumppo stands as a paragon of rugged individualism? In other words, how had one of our folk heroes found an audience in a place where he should’ve been reviled?

Sandra Nickel, an author of young-adult novels, got the answer from her daughter’s Russian godmother, whose youth was apparently filled with totally authorized American classics:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, The Headless Horseman: A Strange Tale of Texas by Thomas Mayne Reid. Almost every Russian child had read these by the age of twelve—and read them more than once.

I am sure the Soviet state approved these books because of their propaganda value. Put together, these three volumes could portray Americans as slave-owning destroyers of Native Americans, who are bigoted against Mexicans. Racists, across the board, in other words.

Instead of finding the disgusting evidence of prejudice and imperialism, though, young Russian readers tended to see the novels as ripping good yarns, so much so that their characters were inducted into public life.

As I've said before and will say again, other people's Indians.


The German Press Edits Out Another Inconvenient Truth

As might be expected, German news sources have been all over the shooting of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black male who was shot by police near Tulsa, Oklahoma a few days ago. The German TV channel RTL even calls him a "pastor", which is guaranteed to awaken false associations in Germans, who are unaware that this title is meaningless in the USA. (Ministers of the established German Protestant Church are staid, well-educated civil servants.) The Bild-Zeitung, Germany's highest-circulation tabloid, confidently announced (g): "These pictures leave hardly any questions." Another story suggests it's murder.

The police officer who fired the fatal shot claims Crutcher had repeatedly refused to follow instructions, was behaving erratically, and reached into his car. She claims she thought he was going for a weapon.

None of the many reports I've seen in the German press mentions a fact that is in almost every US news report: Police found PCP in Crutcher's car. There's no evidence yet whether he was actually under the influence of the drug at the time of his shooting, but officers at the scene claim he was acting in a bizarre manner which they thought looked like intoxication with some strong hallucinogen (and this was before they had searched his car).

What is PCP intoxication like? Let's turn to Drugs.com:

A moderate amount of PCP often causes users to feel detached, distant, and estranged from their surroundings. Numbness of the extremities, slurred speech, and loss of coordination may be accompanied by a sense of strength and invulnerability. A blank stare, rapid and involuntary eye movements, and an exaggerated gait are among the more observable effects. Auditory hallucinations, image distortion, severe mood disorders, and amnesia may also occur. In some users, PCP may cause acute anxiety and a feeling of impending doom; in others, paranoia and violent hostility, and in some, it may produce a psychoses indistinguishable from schizophrenia. Many believe PCP to be one of the most dangerous drugs of abuse....

At high doses of PCP, there is a drop in blood pressure, pulse rate, and respiration. This may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, flicking up and down of the eyes, drooling, loss of balance, and dizziness. High doses of PCP can also cause seizures, coma, and death (though death more often results from accidental injury or suicide during PCP intoxication). Psychological effects at high doses include illusions and hallucinations.

People on PCP can display unusual strength owing to the adrenaline rushes caused by terrifying hallucinations. I worked for a while at a public mental hospital in Texas when I was younger. Every couple of weeks, we would get a new admission of someone who had done PCP and then been found in public screaming and/or naked and/or covered in feces and/or wandering in traffic, or some combination of the above. Often, they'd injured themselves or attacked people. The cops brought them to the mental hospital, where we had to deal with them. Usually the effects had worn off somewhat by the time they were delivered to us, but their behavior was still unpredictable. One of them, while locked in an isolation cell because of his violent outbursts, chewed his own thumb off and ate it.

PCP isn't 'just another drug'. It's incredibly dangerous, and everyone knows this. Anyone who would try it even once has serious psychological problems simply for wanting to try it. Here is a video of people under the influence of PCP, which is definitely not for the faint of heart:

Obviously, there should be a full investigation, mere drug possession or intoxication doesn't justify an unwarranted killing, etc. This could still turn out to be an unjustified shooting, in which case the officers should be punished and reforms introduced.

Nevertheless, evidence Crutcher possessed this drug and that officers believed he was under its influence is relevant to understanding the context of the video. But alas, the purpose of German news reporting on American is almost always to reinforce prejudices, not to foster understanding.


They Wended Their Way to Texas

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Reading an interesting blog post about Danish genetic structure (they're very homogeneous), I came across mention of the Wends. Ignorant clown that I am, I had no idea what they were. It turns out the Wends really got around, as befits Slavic nomads. In fact, there's a Wendish Heritage Museum in rural Lee County, in South Central Texas:

The Museum is a complex of buildings which are connected by porches. In the center is a new facility with a display interpreting the history of the Wends. It also houses the Offices, Gift Shop, Library, and Archives. To the right and left are the old St. Paul school buildings. Exhibits include relics from the old country and Texas. Folk dress of Lusatia, the traditional Texas wedding dresses, and the beautiful Wendish Easter eggs are a few of the colorful exhibits.

Outdoor exhibits include two log buildings and farming equipment.The 1856 log room, built by the Kurio family, originally part of a dog trot home, is furnished as a bed room. A section of the earlier 1855 room is also preserved on the Museum grounds. The Mertink family log room is used to exhibit carpenter’s and farming tools.

The Lillie Moerbe Caldwell Memorial Library specializes in the history and genealogy of the Wendish people. It welcomes donations of family histories and genealogies.The Archives includes rare books in Wendish and German, manuscripts, personal papers, and a photographic collection.

The Texas Wendish Heritage Museum preserves the history of the Texas Wends, Slavic immigrants from Lusatia, an area in eastern Germany. Today the Wends of Lusatia are called Sorbs.

Wendish families began arriving in Texas in 1849, followed by a group of 35 in 1853. In 1854, a congregation of over 500 Wends immigrated on a chartered sailing ship, the Ben Nevis. This group founded a new homeland on 4,254 acres in Bastrop County (now Lee County) and named their new town Serbin. Other Wendish towns and congregations were soon organized.Many more Wends immigrated during the second half of the 19th Century.

The Museum is located in historic Serbin, near the St. Paul Lutheran Church, school and cemetery. The present Church building, built in 1871, is one of the painted churches of South Central Texas.

It's heartening to see how active the site is: the Wendish fest is coming up on September 25. Some highlights of last year's fest:

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And here's a recipe for Wendish noodles from 'The Noodle Lady':

[The] following is the recipe for homemade Wendish noodles that Hattie Mitschke Schautschick learned to make as a child cooking alongside her grandma – Anna Matthijetz Mitschke – and her mama – Louise Mertink Mitschke. Hattie, as I’m sure you well know, is known around here as the Noodle Lady and the one in charge of producing the noodles we sell in our gift shop.

Two things to know upfront about making noodles: (1) If you use yard eggs, you can usually eliminate the water; and (2) try to avoid making noodles when it’s damp outside – the weather affects how fast they’ll dry.

  • 3 eggs
  • Water to fill half-eggshell 3 times (about 6 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups flour plus additional for rolling out dough
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Break the eggs into a large bowl, saving the most intact half-eggshell. Beat eggs and water together. Add 3 cups flour and the salt to form stiff dough. Roll out dough into a rectangle about 1/8-inch thick on a well-floured cutting board or countertop. Allow dough to dry about 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

When dough is dry but still pliable, cut into long sections about 3 inches wide. Take 3-inch sections and cut into thin strips about 1/8-inch wide. Cut strips into preferred length for cooking. Place cut noodles on a dish towel and fluff noodles so air can circulate around them. Allow cut noodles to dry thoroughly, at least overnight or longer if necessary. If noodles won’t be cooked right away, store them in a sealed plastic bag in either the pantry or the freezer for up to six months.

When ready to cook noodles, bring chicken broth to a boil in a large pot. Stir in butter, parsley and dried noodles. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until tender. Be careful not to overcook. Remove pot from heat, leaving lid on, and let sit another 10 to 15 minutes. Do not drain. Makes 1 pound of noodles or 20 servings.

I love tiny museums, and I plan to visit this one next time I'm in the Lone Star State.


ULT FTW: "Us Runs the Water in the Mouth Together"

English shop

A literal translation of the German phrase 'mouth-watering'. This is part of the thriving ULT (ultra-literal translation) subculture, whose patron saint is Heinrich "Equal Goes it Loose" Lübke:

The term Lübke English (or, in German, Lübke-Englisch) refers to nonsensicalEnglishcreated by literal word-by-word translation of German phrases, disregarding differences between the languages in syntax and meaning.

Lübke English is named after Heinrich Lübke, a president of Germany in the 1960s, whose limited English made him a target of German humorists. For example, it was alleged that Lübke said to Queen Elizabeth II when they were waiting for a horse race to start:

  • Lübke's statement: "Equal goes it loose."
  • The sentence Lübke had in mind: "Gleich geht es los."
  • Meaning of the statement: "It'll start very soon."

In 2006, the German magazine konkret unveiled that most of the statements ascribed to Lübke have been coined inside the editorship of Der Spiegel, mainly by staff writer Ernst Goyke.

I once saw a woman wearing a T-shirt saying "With me is not good cherry-eating". I told her "Your T-shirt favors me."


Captain Merkel, Germany's Matronly Taskmaster

After a series of electoral poundings, Merkel has finally struck a more self-critical note. She admits that her government had not prepared for the migrant influx of 2015, and that the influx was "out of control" for a certain time. She added: "God knows we didn't do everything right. We weren't world champions at integration. In a manner of speaking, we are going to have to outdo ourselves, and that applies to me as well." ("Wir haben, weiß Gott, nicht alles richtig gemacht. Wir waren keine Weltmeister bei der Integration. Wir müssen uns gleichsam selbst übertreffen, auch ich.")

In her own words, she's admitted her policy has imposed an unprecedented challenge on Germany which will require the country to somehow outdo all its previous efforts. In an area it's not very good at. And in which it might well fail, risking...?

Is there any wonder why Germans are asking questions such as: "How did one person get into a position to impose this massive national burden on us?" and "Why is this suddenly our problem?" and "Who asked us whether we thought this would be a sensible use of our nation's time, energy, and resources?"

It's as if Angela Merkel, Captain of The Deutschland, smashed the ship against a reef, ordered every passenger to start bailing out the water, and is now giving them speeches about how they're strong and disciplined and she just knows their days of backbreaking work will allow the ship to reach harbor safely.


Pommy Bastards Accuse Aussies of Bigotry

From koalanet:

On 22nd May 2008 the Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) in Sydney sent a letter to Koala Net stating that they had received a complaint from an organisation calling itself British People Against Racial Discrimination (BPARD). BPARD felt that the entries on the Australian slang page referring to Poms were derogatory and offensive.

Koala Net disagrees and will not delete the entries unless forced to by an Australian court.

You can read full details of the complaint and Koala Net's reply:

  1. Letter dated 22nd May 2008 from the HREOC to Koala Net.
  2. Email dated 24th December 2007 from David Thomason of BPARD to the HREOC.
  3. Email from BPARD addressed to Koala Net but not sent. The HREOC sent it to Koala Net.
  4. Letter dated 26th May 2008 from Koala Net to the HREOC.

Nuts and Rocks: The Right Analogy About Immigrants and Crime

As German news sources repeat over and over, the German FBI, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), has insisted that migrants are no more violent than "comparable" Germans, although there is never any detailed information about what the BKA considers "comparable" in the news reports. In any event the BKA report for the beginning of 2016 recorded 69,000 (g) attempted and completed crimes by foreigners, mostly theft and fraud.

Is this a problem? It depends on your perspective. If you think Germany has an obligation to offer a new life to millions of randomly-selected people from around the world, then you'll argue that some extra crime is to be expected, and we'd do best simply to ignore it.

The other perspective would be that Germany should proactively screen out as many criminals as possible. This is nowhere near as hard as people make it out to be. We have lots of information about what predisposes someone to crime. Past criminal history, low IQ, low impulse control, low levels of education, status of being a young male. Everyone who seeks to enter Germany without an existing job offer or university acceptance should have to provide detailed information and complete a series of tests.

Immigration into another foreign country is not a human right, except for refugees (and even refugees have a right only to locate to the first country in which they are no longer persecuted. The rest is migration). Countries are free to place whatever restrictions they choose on who gets to enter their country.

Germany is more stable, prosperous, safe, orderly, and humane than 95% of nations on earth. This leads to two conclusions. First, Germany has a lot of leverage, because tens of millions of people want to come live here. Second, Germany has a lot to lose, because letting in (1) large numbers of (2) the wrong kind of people could damage Germany's stability. As the German Social Democratic jurist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde once said (pdf), "The liberal, secularized state is nourished by presuppositions that it cannot itself guarantee." Import enough people who don't share those presuppositions and you import social conflict.

This is why I say the ideal crime rate among immigrants is 0%. That is, Germany should aim to import people who are less likely to commit violent crimes than "organic Germans", to use the phrase which has popped up in Germany lately (bio-Deutsche). We'll never get to 0%, of course, but that should be the goal. We can certainly eliminate 80% of violent crime by migrants by not allowing in any uneducated, low-IQ young males.

The right analogy, in my view, is nuts and rocks. Here's my argument. When you harvest nuts, a certain number of small nut-shaped rocks enter the hoppers. If you bite down on a rock thinking it's a cashew, you may well lose a tooth, or more. In fact, this is one of the main sources of business for personal-injury lawyers. These days, food companies have gotten very, very good at removing rocks from nuts before they reach the consumer. 

Why? Because society has determined, by regulation and lawsuit, that the ideal number of rocks in nuts is 0%. Society decided 1 rock in 1,000 nuts is too much. In fact, 1 in a million is too much. Because if you're the person who bites into that 1 rock among a million nuts, you have suffered a serious, preventable, totally unnecessary injury. Nobody -- not even food packaging companies -- will argue that even 1 rock in a million nuts is an acceptable risk. Because it isn't.

This is the analogy we should use for migrant crime. Germany doesn't have to let any migrants into its borders, except those recognized refugees who flee directly to Germany without transiting a country in which they would be safe. Immigration is a voluntary choice by the receiving country. Allowing immigration is, in theological terms, supererogatory. 

Therefore, any serious crime committed by an immigrant is analogous to a rock among the nuts. It didn't have to happen. It could have been prevented. It's not simply an inevitable fact of life we must all accept. Crime by your fellow-countrymen is. This is why no country allows you to sue the police or the government for personal damages simply for not preventing a crime which happened to you. Not even if they had advance warning you were at risk. If the rule were otherwise, the courts would drown in litigation.

But I think the policy should be different for crime committed by immigrants. These crimes, unlike crimes committed by natives, are not simply part of the background radiation of risk we face. They happened in Germany, to you, only because the German government failed to responsibly screen immigrants. The German government let in a rock among the nuts. And trust me, it's letting in far more than 1 in a million.

We should strike to ensure the number of rocks among nuts in our supermarkets is 0.

We should also strive to make sure the number of serious violent criminals among immigrants to our country is 0.

We'll never get all the way there, but the goal should be clear: 0.


Fun with Pattern Recognition: Shots Fired by German Police, 2007-2015

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From reddit's Data is Beautiful. Gee, I wonder what caused the big jump in 2015?

The first 2 comments:

[–]TheGogglesDoNothing -- I suspect that this graph will correlate pretty well to a graph of "shootings by police in Chicago from 9/1-9/7".

 

[–]foll-trood -- that's not how you format hours and minutes