Monday, 23 April 2018

Miscegination is no excuse for a law

Hands up: Who has heard of the Mann Act in the US?

From Wikipedia (Mann Act) :

It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann of Illinois, and in its original form made it a felony to engage in interstate or foreign commerce transport of "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose". Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking, particularly where trafficking was for the purposes of prostitution. This is one of several acts of protective legislation aimed at moral reform during the progressive era. In practice, its ambiguous language about "immorality" has resulted in its being used to criminalize even consensual sexual behavior between adults. It was amended by Congress in 1978 and again in 1986 to apply to transport for the purpose of prostitution or illegal sexual acts.

That bit about "... for any other immoral purpose" is kind of odd wording for a law - surely better would be "... or any other illegal purpose", seeing as that is what laws are supposed to be about.

I was all set to rant about how it was mainly used to target black men having sex with white women and was thus part of the Jim Crow laws that ostensibly targeted everybody, but were almost exclusively used against Negroes, Blacks, African-Americans. That prompted the title - FYI miscegination is the technical term for inter-racial sexual activity.

Before I started ranting, I wanted some ammunition in the form of statistics about disparate application of the Mann Act, and found instead that many white Americans were prosecuted under its auspices, and that rather than being a Jim Crow law, it was more part of  a Puritanical response to the somewhat laissez-faire attitude to prostitution in the 19th and early 20th century.

Such worthies as Charlie Chaplin, Chuck Berry, Frank Lloyd Wright, and yes Jack Johnston (1908-1915 World Champion boxer, and black) were charged under the Mann Act. Chaplin was acquitted, Wright's charges were dropped, Johnson and Berry were convicted. Maybe there was disparate impact, even if there wasn't disparate application.

There are moves now surfacing to have President Trump issue a posthumous pardon for Jack Johnson's conviction, and I was all for it, but now that I investigate further, I think I was wrong.

I could get on board if Congress or the courts were to concede that the initial law (pre-1978 amendments) was unconstitutional for vagueness - the term "immoral acts" was apparently not defined. Following that, President Trump should pardon everybody convicted under the law. To single out any one person would be a travesty.

Monday, 16 April 2018

... and the Oscar for PR Disaster goes to ...

From news reports it appears that a discount airline operating flights from the US to Mexico cancelled a flight, refused to schedule a replacement, and made a statement saying "... they hope providing a refund for the cancelled flight ‘will more than compensate for the cost of making alternative arrangements home.’ "

Maybe people should pay more attention to the details of contracts they enter into, specifically in this case what's called the Contract of Carriage.

Right there in paragraph two of Sun Country Airlines Contract of Carriage, it says (emphasis mine):
Consequential Damages
Purchase of a ticket does not guarantee transportation. Sun Country Airlines shall in no event be liable for any indirect, special, or consequential damages resulting from the performance or delay in performance of, or failure to perform, transportation of passengers and other services incidental thereto (except baggage liability as provided below) whether or not Sun Country Airlines has knowledge that such damages might be incurred.

Found at:
https://www.suncountry.com/dam/jcr:f9e2405b-7ceb-4b98-a716-78c1dcd6874f/SCA-contract-of-carriage.pdf

This seems startling - this airline is taking your money but making no promises in return that they will fly you to your destination.

The elephant in the room is: ALL AIRLINES HAVE THE SAME OR SIMILAR CLAUSES IN THEIR CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE.

If you believe you have a paid right to transport, said transport to be provided by the company to which you have paid money - YOU ARE WRONG.

Sure, in most cases the airline will do its best to get you to your destination, but that is because the management want to stay in business. By the terms of the contract you entered into, all the company has to do is TRY. If that effort results in failure, you have NO RESORT under the contract.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

The Beclowning of the Leftists

Like many a normal person, I have relatives - members of my extended family - who are avowed leftists. Of course, they don't call themselves leftists. According to them, they are invariably the only people in the room who are right.

When Donald Trump was elected as President of the US, they loudly and proudly pronounced themselves opposed to every breath he took, even though as the leader of another country his election had little to no affect on them or their lives.

In May of 2017, at a family member's birthday celebration, I was derisively dismissed as stupid when I ventured that the Mueller investigation had, and would, discover nothing. I said at the time that I did not believe Trump had done anything wrong, even though various courts (most in Hawaii, strangely) seemed to disagree with his announced intention to protect America from sudden jihadi syndrome.

It's now almost a year later, and indeed Mueller has produced nothing but a few dubiously obtained "he didn't tell us the truth" indictments of people unrelated to his remit of investigating Trump's "collusion with Russia to sway the election".

Birthdays being the annual event that they are, and the passing of decades being a significant milestone, there is a large party planned for this May.

Should I raise the utter failure of Mueller's "investigation", and cite the ongoing investigations into assorted FBI, DoJ, and CIA figures; or should I be the proverbial better man, and let this particular sleeping dog lie?



On a related note: Scooter Libby has been pardoned. He allegedly leaked the name of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, and spent time in prison. Of course, he did no such thing, and the prosecution and court both knew it. A number of elements of that conviction were unsound:
1. The prosecution and the court  had a confession from Richard Armitage that HE leaked the name;
2. Valerie Plame was NOT a covert agent, but a lowly analyst
3. The prosecution relied on known false statements from a witness who was manipulated into saying something that could be used against Libby
4. The FBI made CLAIMS that Libby lied to agents, but as is usual FBI practice, no recording of the interview was made, only a Form 302, completed by one of the interviewing agents from memory and notes, and NOT PROVIDED TO THE INTERVIEWEE for verification.

Trump was right: given the abysmal recent performance of the FBI in relation to honesty and integrity, Libby's conviction was most definitely unsound.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Well that's the end of that ... maybe

A friend of mine is in need of something to do, so as a bit of a joke, I texted him about trying the Dam Challenge next year.

The following ensued:

Me: What are you up to in April 2019?
Me: The Dam Challenge is on.
Me: You'd have a year to get fit enough to ride 205 km in a day.
Me: ... or a shorter option - 53 or 137 km.

Him: Dream on.

Me: It would be fun!
Me: ... and they provide all services AND feed you.

Him: I'd die.

Me: I doubt it. It's not a race - do it at your own pace. You have 11 hours to finish.

Him: Can I have 3 weeks?

So I guess that's a "no" then, or maybe a "HELL NO!"

Still it DOES sound interesting.

If I start now, I should be able to put several thousand kilometres into my legs before Christmas without busting a boiler, and that much exercise should lift my fitness to a point that would stand me in good stead for the challenge.

I think I'll download the route maps, and maybe give some of it a try.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Cyclists aren't stupid ... maybe.

Domestic spousal unit spent Sunday at her day job - event catering.

This time it was the 2018 Dam Challenge cycling event.

Simple challenge  really - ride from the cycling centre at Champion Lakes to two, three, or five of Perth's water supply dams and back. That makes a total of 53, 137, or 205 kilometres in the saddle - depending on your level of sanity.

More than 2,000 riders took part, paying up to $199 for the privilege of going to work on Monday aching in every muscle and joint. I don't think it was even for a good cause - it was just for the challenge of it all.

First riders away at 0600, and the last back arrived at 1730. With groups of about 20 leaving every 30 seconds (according to the organisers' plans), that means that last rider would likely have left before 0700. That makes it a LOOOONG day in the saddle.

I may be insane, but I am actually thinking that I might give it a try next year, so I down-loaded the "Get Prepared for the Dam Challenge" documents.

For a novice rider, they seem to think that you can be ready to face the challenge devoting between five and eight hours a week for twelve weeks.

Will somebody please tell 'em they're dreamin' - especially when Monday is for stretching only, with no bike work until Tuesday.

Still it looks like it might be fun, and heaven knows I need SOMETHING as an incentive to get fitter.




Monday, 9 April 2018

Wait... is that a girl?

I have been catching some of the Commonwealth Games coverage, which serves mainly to convince me that I should get off my ass and make SOME effort to get into better shape, then along comes an event which makes me wonder if the whole world has gone mad.

It was the 90+ kg women's weightlifting. Now most of those women are awesome (they can lift above their heads all the things that I would consider akin to the proverbial "immovable object"), but Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand looked a little - um - off?

OK, a LOT off, because until age 35 Laurel Hubbard was Gavin Hubbard, a champion weight lifter in the men's 90+ kg division. At some point about then, maybe it was that 35th birthday that did it, he decided that he was actually a she, and from that time, wanted to compete in women's weightlifting.

Now if Laurel Hubbard had been born a female, and then taken testosterone for 20+ years from puberty, she would have been banned from the sport faster than you could say "I am SO a girl" and stamp your foot in  a hissy fit. However, because Gavin did NOT start life as a female but just wanted to improve himself into being female after being exposed to endogenous testosterone for those 20+ years, the NZ weight lifting authorities not only ALLOWED, but ENCOURAGED "her" to enter the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

As in "encouraged" with support and actual money - taxpayers' money.

In researching this, I find that Laurel Hubbard, born male in 1978 and named Gavin Hubbard, was actually appointed to the position of Executive Director of New Zealand Weightlifting before transitioning. Does this mean that the entity now known as Laurel Hubbard was involved in the decision to select "her" for the NZ Commonwealth Games women's weightlifting team?

For all those SJW twinks out there - consider this as your sole trigger warning.

This is insane. Criminally, ethically, morally, and intellectually insane. This is so insane that everybody that supports it should be stripped of every possession and locked in a rubber-lined room - for ever - for our safety.




Friday, 6 April 2018

Why I like Porsche cars, and LOVE the Porsche company

It has been said before that I am obsessed with Porsche. Well, obsessed might be a tad over the top, but I do indeed like the cars.

However much I like the cars, though, I LOVE the company.

Years ago, I bought a slightly used 944S2. It had 96,000 km on the clock, and was in generally good condition, although a lot of maintenance items were coming up, due, or overdue. Not surprising, as the owner traded it on a Ferrari, so he must have been a poser, rather than a car guy.

I persuaded the vendor to do ALL the maintenance, by the simple tactic of walking away, and being uninterested in a car that needed so much work. After all, I had worked and waited YEARS to be able to afford (and justify to myself) a Porsche, there was no way that I was going to jump on the first one available that was in my price range - I could wait. So I walked away - until the offer came a month or so later, "What would it take to get you into the Porsche that you looked at?" The answer to that was, "A lot."

At the time the car fell (just) inside the Australian law that stipulates that car manufacturers must stock parts for (at least) seven years after the car that they fit goes out of production. I know that some manufacturers rigorously apply this rule, from the other angle - seven years and one day after a car model is no longer sold, they destroy all the available, unique, spare parts. If the parts also fit a continuing model, then obviously this doesn't apply. They don't discount and sell them, they destroy them - I can only assume that they get some tax benefit by writing them off. This information comes from friends that worked in the parts division for separate car manufacturers, and they were personally directed to do the destruction - by driving a forklift over panels, and smashing plastic parts with a hammer, as examples.

Porsche doesn't do that.

I had a mishap with some road debris - a piece of wood used as packing fell off a truck, and took out the protective engine under tray.

I rang the dealer, the only dealer in my city, and enquired about a replacement.

Questions about what vehicle, what year, what part were followed by "Certainly, in stock, available ex-Melbourne, it will be here by Thursday." Almost as surprising, the price was entirely reasonable.

This is a part for a vehicle almost 30 years old, that hasn't been built or sold in any form for 27 years, and even then only sold about 14,000 examples world-wide.

The manufacturer not only buys the parts (I don't think even Porsche does their own plastic injection molding), but the part number indicates that this is the THIRD revision of the part. The parts catalog software shows that the most recent changes were made AFTER THE CAR WAS OUT OF PRODUCTION.

So, to summarise:
Porsche keeps buying and stocking parts for cars that are 30 years old.
Porsche keeps IMPROVING parts for cars that they no longer make.
Porsche keeps stock of these parts in Australia, where they only sold 128 of the cars in this example.

I told you that I LOVE Porsche, the company - maybe you can see why.