Monday, December 31, 2012

Glenn Grothman's Epistle to the Bigots

I bet most of you didn't know we here at the Chief are amateur archaeologists?

As it happens, we were in the Holy Land during this winter break digging through some dirt when we found a clay jar containing this centuries old letter from a Roman Senator to a group of bureaucratic functionaries in Judea. Below is a rough translation from the original  Latin. Judging by the syntax and ancientness of the author's ideas, we've determined it was written in the third or forth century.


Why Must We Still Hear About the Christ-mas?
Why are hard-core religious fanatics still trying to talk about the Christ-mas -- the supposed post-Jewish holiday celebration between the Saturnalia and the Aesculapio? 
As has been well publicized, the Christ-mas is not some Roman tradition. It was invented in the third year of the reign of the Emperor Trajan to celebrate Jesus of Nazareth, a filthy Jew of peasant birth who wasn't even from Nazareth, but was actually born in Bethlehem (and we all know what kind of filth comes from that corner of the Empire!) who founded something called "Christianity" for reasons I don't care to concern myself with any further. This group, often referred to as the "Christians" is even more radical than the Jews which have troubled our Empire from the top of Mount Mossada! Some Christians have even been imprisoned and eventually put to death in Rome, Alexandria, Patras and Jerusalem for inciting the populace against the Empire with their message of cultural and social revolution. Jesus himself is said to have advocated armed insurrection when he proclaimed: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." 
Jesus of "Nazareth" was a racist who believed he was somehow the culmination of Judaism, so he founded a religion his followers claimed to "perfect" the "Word of God" as passed down in the scriptures of the Jews. He also hated having to buy oil to refill his menorah every winter -- hence Christ-mas. 
Of course, almost no true Roman in the Judean Provence today cares about the Christ-mas -- just those sympathetic to the false counselors of the Emperor Constantine who try to shove this false holiday down the throats of Roman citizens in an effort to divide the Empire. Irresponsible public school districts such as Thessalonia and Rhodes (and who knows how many others!) try to tell a new generation that Christians can have a separate holiday than Romans.  
A renegade Roman, formerly known as Saul and the chief spokesman for the Christians, though long since put to the sword for his crimes against the Empire, encouraged people to learn more about the Christ-mas in letters written during the reign of Emperor Vespasian. Fortunately, almost all Romans ignore Saul and his ilk and their efforts to divide the Empire. 
But why do they do it? They don't like the Empire and seek to destroy it by pretending that its values as dictated by the Emperor and his appointed prelates don't apply to everyone. Mainstream Romans must be more outspoken on this issue. It's time the Christ-mas is slapped down once and for all! With tens of millions of honorable Romans in our country's past, we should not let a violent nut like Jesus of Nazareth to speak for them. The temples ought to be particularly appalled since Jesus of Nazareth taught that all men were welcome to join him in the afterlife, a brazen attempt to steal away Romans from the gods of our fathers!  
Be on the lookout for anyone who tries to tell your children or grandchildren the Christ-mas is a real holiday! 
Strength and Honor, 
Glenmarius Homonomicus Grothmanicus


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gun Laws in the UK

For obvious reasons, there are few statistics more obscured, obfuscated and truncated than gun crime number, particularly those of countries with strict gun control laws. Take this display from today's Wall Street Journal:
[The] Dunblane [massacre of 1996] had a more dramatic impact. Hamilton had a firearm certificate, although according to the rules he should not have been granted one. A media frenzy coupled with an emotional campaign by parents of Dunblane resulted in the Firearms Act of 1998, which instituted a nearly complete ban on handguns. Owners of pistols were required to turn them in. The penalty for illegal possession of a pistol is up to 10 years in prison. 
The results have not been what proponents of the act wanted. Within a decade of the handgun ban and the confiscation of handguns from registered owners, crime with handguns had doubled according to British government crime reports. Gun crime, not a serious problem in the past, now is. Armed street gangs have some British police carrying guns for the first time. Moreover, another massacre occurred in June 2010. Derrick Bird, a taxi driver in Cumbria, shot his brother and a colleague then drove off through rural villages killing 12 people and injuring 11 more before killing himself.

The author is correctish. I haven't been able to find specific numbers for only handguns, but "gun crime" as a whole did double between the implementation of the handgun ban in 1998 and its peak in 2006. However, it's been declining ever since:

It's also important to understand that every new crime law usually labels certain kinds of behavior "criminal" that weren't necessarily considered such before, and Britain does not screw around in terms of enforcement of their gun laws. Behavior that wouldn't get people arrested in most jurisdictions in the United States receives the unapologetic wrath of the Queen's justice. Take the following recent case, for example:
An armed robber was caught out when he threatened a group of 'drug dealers' only to find out they were actually undercover police officers. 
David Nestoruk was dishing out his own brand of 'street justice' when he used an imitation firearm to threaten a gang of what he thought were drug pushers completing a deal on the streets of Penwortham, Preston, Lancashire. 
The 23-year-old convict cycled past the group flashing an imitation handgun and warned: 'You've got five minutes to get out or I'm going to blast you.'
I just want to point out that identifying the man as an "armed robber" is something of a cross between a sensationalist touch indicative of the British press and a convention used to describe a man with a long rap sheet and a thin employment history. He was actually not robbing anyone during the incident in question. What's more:
He also said the imitation gun, which was a gas powered BB gun, was in effect a 'toy gun.' 
Police say the imitation firearm still has not been recovered. 
Judge Jonathan Gibson, in handing out a 22-month prison sentence, said: 'These police officers believed this gun to be real, leaving them scared and shaken.'
A case like this might not even reach the point of arrest depending on the neighborhood and race of the offender in the United States, where it would likely be resolved as a misunderstanding. In Britain, the man was sentenced to two years in prison.

The justness of the verdict aside, this case illustrates the size of the chasm between what constitutes a "gun crime" in the UK versus the American definition of same. If you prefer an even more extreme example, try this one on for size:
Ian Poulton, 33, was arrested after more than 15 armed officers wearing bullet-proof vests and aiming machine guns at him swooped on a quiet street in Telford, Shrops, in May this year. 
Police were alerted after residents reported seeing a man with a weapon tucked into the waistband of his trousers. He was said to have been threatening Jose Luis Candelaria, his neighbour. 
But the operation took an unusual turn when officers discovered Poulton was actually in possession of a sexual appliance. 
Poulton was jailed for five years after he admitted possessing an item which had the appearance of a handgun with intent to cause fear of violence at Shrewsbury Crown Court. 
He also admitted assaulting Mr Candelaria, causing him actual bodily harm. 
Jailing Poulton on Wednesday, Judge Robin Onions told him: "It was clearly not a gun, be it imitation or real. It was an entirely innocent object. It was the defendant's intention to deceive. Witnesses thought it was a firearm so he has to take the consequences."
Even the most rabid gun control advocate in the United States would consider 5 years for battery with a deadly dildo to be a bit extreme.

But there is also something very interesting to the British approach to "gun control." Take a look at the chart below:

Ignoring "air weapons," which could include certain kinds of paintball guns (seriously), the most frequent kind of gun offense is due to handguns, but look at how radically different in "% used as" handgun crimes are in relation to other kinds of guns are: almost 80% are threats like the ones described above. In other words, the British approach to violent crime prevent has a lot to do with locking up potential violent criminals at the very first sign that they're headed in the direction of violence.

Why are we here at the Chief so intrigued by this statistic? Because the #1 motive for known causes of homicides in the United States is ... argument. Depending on how you define "arguments" for statistical purposes, they're responsible for between 33-50% of murders in America. The British treat arguments -- or threats -- involving guns, or even the perceived appearance of guns, with deathly seriousness. Here in the United States we all too often do not.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Jonathan Krause Really Should Learn How to Read

It's been a while since we've taken a whack at the Jonathan Krause pinata, but since today's edition of his drivel is such low-hanging fruit, we thought we'd bring out ye ole' Ugly Stick and take some batting practice. (Mixed metaphors -- we love 'em!)

Here are the first two graphs of JK's post:
There is a Biblical verse that Dave Ramsey (2-5 weekdays on WOSH) likes to quote all of the time:  "The borrower is slave to the lender."  In Biblical times, that had very literal meaning, as those who owed someone could be forced into slavery to repay a debt.  This week, the folks at the activist group One Wisconsin took it nearly that far, comparing student loan borrowers to "indentured servants"
There's nothing to really add about the first graph, but do please note that Krause will be referring to the op-ed he himself links to above.

The group conducted a small amount of research and found that the average college graduate takes 19-years to pay off their student loans--at monthly payments of $388.  My calculator tells me that is a total repayment of more than 88-thousand dollars over the life of the loans.  The only problem is, that doesn't jibe with the national averages cited in dozens of other locations:  that the average college debt is $26,600 dollars--and the average time to pay that off is 11-years.  As the Left often likes to do, it appears One Wisconsin made sure to find as many people in the deepest possible holes to make the situation look as dire as possible.

This graph deserves a line-by-line examination.
The group conducted a small amount of research and found that the average college graduate takes 19-years to pay off their student loans--at monthly payments of $388.
First, what Krause calls a "small amount of research" is actually a survey of 2,658 people in the state of Wisconsin. That's considerably larger than the sample size of most political opinion polls. The biennial St. Norbert's Wisconsin Survey typically only reaches about 400 respondents, while Charles Franklin's monthly polls for Marquette Law School contact upwards of 1200+.

More importantly, however, is the fact that Krause completely misrepresents what he is trying to report. He reports that One Wisconsin found that "the average college graduate takes 19-years to pay off their student loans--at monthly payments of $388." Except this is not what One Wisconsin is claiming. Here is OWN's finding, emphasis added:
Nearly one-third of those with a bachelor's or advanced degree are now making a student loan payments, and that payments average $388 per month. 
The length of student loan debt was nearly 19 years for people with bachelor's degrees and over 22 years for those with graduate or professional degrees.
Got that? Krause claims the average monthly student loan burden for a college graduate is $388, that figure is a.) not a cumulative average, but an average for just a third of the student loan holders (an presumably the upper third at that), and b.) not just among people with only bachelor's degrees, but includes those with advanced degrees as well, which can considerably increase the total cost of one's higher education.

Moving on:
My calculator tells me that is a total repayment of more than 88-thousand dollars over the life of the loans.
He's right -- it's $88,464 to be precise, but the problem here is that Krause is multiplying apples and oranges and arriving at just one convenient fruit. Remember, the $388/month figure includes loanees with "bachelor's or advanced degrees" while the 19 year number is just for "average college graduates," and since the "average" college graduate doesn't have a graduate degree, it's doubtful these numbers are commensurate.
The only problem is, that doesn't jibe with the national averages cited in dozens of other locations:  that the average college debt is $26,600 dollars--and the average time to pay that off is 11-years.
"Dozens of other locations" and yet Krause can't even bring himself to link to one of them? It's make you wonder where he got the $26,000 figure in the first place. Well, if you followed the link he provides in the first paragraph you'll discover that he got it from something called the Institute for College Access and Success by way of ... One Wisconsin.

But there are a number of legitimate reasons for the discrepancy that Krause appears oblivious to. The first is that the $88,000+ is total paid by Wisconsin graduates, some of whom have advanced degrees, over the lifetime of the loan, which includes accumulated interest; while the $26,000 is an average debt owed among national undergraduates on the day they leave school. It took us all of 15 seconds to discover the reason behind this discrepancy, but that doesn't Krause from ignoring possible root causes and proceeding directly to one of his trademark gross mischaracterizations  of poorly interpreted information:
As the Left often likes to do, it appears One Wisconsin made sure to find as many people in the deepest possible holes to make the situation look as dire as possible.
Unfortunately, this episode is a much better example of an idiot radio news-reader who didn't take the time to, you know, read a story carefully and simply contorted the data to fit his worldview. The bulk of the post is Krause riding his "fuck you, you lazy fucks!" Though, I guess it reads a little hollow coming from such a very lazy reader as Krause.