Citizenship, Education, Free Society, Media, Writing and diction

Piers Morgan Redux

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

We still hear rants from Piers Morgan on how America ought to be. A comparison seems appropriate, though in a sense it is rather embarrassing to compare him with Alistair Cooke.


Alistair Cooke came to the States on Commonwealth fund scholarship to study. Among other things he happened to be hired as a film critic and had a Letter from England program on NBC in the thirties and is noted for his coverage of the Abdication of Edward VIII. Reporting from America after WWII, he developed the Letter from America which lasted 58 years.


Cooke was a journalist and scholar. He studied the United States before speaking and he did not shoot his mouth off on subjects he did not understand. While in the States he was employed as a journalist for the Guardian, one of Britain’s more reputable papers and he wrote extensively. He oversaw the research and writing of Alistair Cooke’s America. And he understood what he was writing about. No ranting, just objective reporting.


On the other hand, we have Piers Morgan. Piers, a product of state schools and the Harlow College (roughly equivalent to a Juco or Vo-Tech in the US), has a career in tabloid newspapers and celebrity television. Prior to taking over for Larry King, he was fired as editor of The Mirror for publishing dubious photographs. He had been a “presenter” rather than a correspondent for BBC.


His role as a “host” is not that of a journalist. Larry King made no pretensions that the show was anything but entertainment. Unlike his predecessor, Morgan lines up guests who disagree with him for a session of hectoring and rants, bypassing rational discourse. He does not attempt to learn or to educate himself on America. His assumption is that celebrity trumps research and education.


In fact he is woefully ignorant, not only of American constitutional history but British as well. Our Declaration of Independence cites the 1689 Bill of Rights. Our second amendment guarantees all citizens the same right to keep and bear arms as the 1689 Bill grants Protestants. Unfortunately for our cousins across the pond there is a waiver of the Bill of Rights in time of war—ever notice that the UK has been in a state of war most of the time since. He looks at what are essentially “black swan” events which are not subject to real analysis since there origins appear to be random and comes to a definite solution that does not work—it has not worked in Britain, a far more violent society than the US, and it has not worked anywhere.


The British finally, about 1775, ordered the colonists in Massachusetts Bay to surrender their weaponry. On the night of 18 April 1775 they marched a column of 800 or so grenadiers and marines out of Boston to arrest two “traitors” at Lexington and seize munitions at Concord. In the morning they stood facing a small group of armed colonists on the green—while they were facing this group, John Hancock and Sam Adams slipped out of the Rev John Emerson’s residence and headed south unnoticed by the Redcoats. Shots were fired and the colonists retreated. At Concord they found the cache of munitions empty and a larger force (growing by the minute). As the British forces (I should say English because the term UK is a sop that does not recognize where the power is) started to retreat the colonists kept firing and picking up more Enfield muskets along the way. There was a war.


When, in the ratification process, the anti-federalist faction demanded a Bill of Rights that included the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The Assize of 1181 and the 1689 Bill of Rights were precedent to the US Bill of Rights. The fact that the UK Parliament has gutted Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights as the people have adopted a stance of European serfdom, is not something one gets in a technical trade school.


Piers asks about the AR-15. In the 19th Century case of Dred Scott v. Sanford, the court remarked that if blacks were given citizenship, they would have the right to “musket and cannon,” the military weaponry of the day. This is, of course, what lawyers refer to as dicta which has less legal standing than the arguments in the decision. Dicta is most of what we get out of Supreme Court cases since judges want to leave employment opportunities for attorneys and judges. Prior to Heller, most second amendment cases (with the exception of Cruikshank which was overturned by Congress) have more dicta than decision. US v Miller, for instance, was decided as an excise case with dicta that there was no regulatory power and that the weapon in question was of no military utility.


A “host” with a liberal arts background would probably realize that there are arguments from various perspectives on the question. And the purpose of the interview should be to broaden the discussion, not browbeat the interviewee with the pretense that authority comes from a BBC accent. And yet there may be hope—in an interview with Ann Coulter, Piers did admit that his visceral reaction to pro-second amendment guests may have been counter to his cause.


We shall see.


Compleat Idler, Economy, Humor, Technology

Short commentary

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for Secretary of State. No, this will not end the Benghazi debate—it was not the messenger but the message. Obama wanted his narrative.

Obama to meet with Boehner. A headline something like Fighting Intense Near Verdun in 1915 and 16 and 17 and 18. Look for something that kicks the can down the road a year or two.

Michigan passes “right to work.” Do not be surprised by repeal in a couple years.

Obama supports “secular” opposition in Syrian. Of course they can fit in one phone booth. Jordan is next.

Kansas Governor merges adult and juvenile corrections. This is an extremely bad idea which has been around since the early eighties—at least.

Lindsay Lohan is down to one story in today’s Mail—apparently she is impoverished. You might think that playing Elizabeth Taylor might lead her to Paris’s brother Conrad.

There are petitions on the White House website for secession. The state legislators who actually pass secession resolutions are not about to give up their entitlements and funding for their projects by doing so.

Meanwhile there are also petitions to nationalize Twinkies and build a Death Star—the latter being touted as a “jobs engine” on the scale of NASA. I do not see private capital coming forward to finance even part of such a project.

There are some private capital bids for some Hostess trademarks and recipes (take sugar, add high fructose corn syrup, throw in artificial flavors and colors, pump air into the center, throw on some more sugar). Meanwhile, Little Debbie sits there luring customers with her innocent smile—plus sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, sugar frosting, powdered sugar.

There may be something to this petition site. It helps identify the clueless.

The MailOnline reports a decline in the Samurai Caste during the Edo period because of lead poisoning in the make-up they wore. My brother sent me the more nuanced report from MSNBC. As an historical note, in the 1860s the District of Columbia installed new lead water pipes to prevent sabotage of the system. Solutions cause problems.




Western Civilization

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the category of the decline of education, I got news the other day regarding the University of Kansas where I took baccalaureate work more years ago than I care to remember. The College of Liberal Arts and sciences is discussing eliminating the requirement of the “reading heavy” Western Civilization discussion course which also included a four hour comprehensive examination (I really hated Rousseau).  There is a statement that the course is not going away but that there will be “other options” for the bachelor of arts degree. The College also awards a bachelor of general studies degree that eliminates onerous requirements.

As I recall, the discussions and the works were sometimes long and, from a 20-year-old point of view, not really relevant to the world of 1964. They did cut into study time for other courses, not to mention pool playing, but the discussions could be very interesting. Why did I need to read The Communist Manifesto although it was considerably more readable than Marx’s Capital? What did long dead philosophers have to do with the gritty world of the 20th Century with its “new” ideas and problems. And we still ask the same questions in discussion groups that are more voluntary in nature. Forty years makes a lot of difference in perspective. If someone wants to discuss political ethics, I start with recommending Plato’s philosopher king and work through Aristotle, Machiavelli (The Discourses as well as The Prince) and even Bonhoeffer—if you want a heavy discussion you do heavy reading.

It is 2012. And we still have arguments flying around as “new” and innovative.  And, unless we are required to the majority of us do not discuss the historical and philosophical underpinnings of Western culture.  I hear people talking about defending western civilization from people who have no clue as to what they are defending and what are the consequences. Hint: Our political and social system owes more to Greece and Rome than to the Bible.

New needs to be tested and sometimes there is no substitute for heavy reading.


Free Society

When will they ever learn?

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl – Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Bill Press, California Democratic hack and commentator is embarrassed by the National Anthem because of its “military jargon” and the fact that it spans two octaves. He has no clue as to the origin of the anthem or the significance of that origin. He obviously does not follow and has not read my post Flag of Defiance from 25 April.

Let me put it bluntly. Had not Admiral Cochrane decided to break contact, the King’s forces would have swarmed the States with enough troops and enough glory hunting generals like Robert Ross that the lamp of freedom would be extinguished.

The Star Spangled Banner is not about war and armies. It is a tribute to militia standing up to invasion and prevailing against the major power in the world. This embarrasses those who believe in an all powerful central government because it strikes at the premise of the national army. It talks about free men, not mercenaries or conscripts. And it is not limited to this nation but to the free standing against empire—how subversive.

Mr Press is certainly entitled to his opinion, as flawed by illogic and ignorance as it is.


Roll the dice – answer the question

(c) Earl L. Haehl  Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Here again to confuse your minds because tearing out loose cobwebs keeps you awake and active. I, myself, am learning Spanish (and unlearning Italian because they confuse one another) and studying some of the improvements in math I let by while being a bureaucrat. And you are unlucky enough to hear about it.

Did you all whip out your TI-83s to solve the puzzle. I hope not, because the answer is that on any roll of the dice there are six chances in thirty-six possibilities that the number seven will emerge. Each roll of the dice is a separate event.

Now the odds of there being 101 consecutive 7s are 101 in 3.919911741×10 to the 78th power. That is a whole lot of zeroes. But is can happen. And if you keep rolling the same set of dice it tends to happen because of wear on edges or corners. And if you’re Sky Masterson, it helps to sing “Luck be a Lady,”(1) What the odds say is that in a random world it doesn’t happen very often.

The other thing you can do with the dice is to have one person roll the dice for say a half hour to 45 minutes and another record the number that shows each time. Then look at the distribution to see if it resembles the pattern. If someone did several thousand rolls it would probably work out—to find subjects who would go through that much boredom without it phasing them you need ed psych majors—sorry but there are things a lab rat would not do.(2)

If the results do not correlate to the chart, just remember that statistics has never been an exact science and that there are always random variances. Normal people realize this. In college I had a set to with my biology lab instructor because my fruit fly counts did not match the ratios in the book so I handed him my covered petri dish and told him to have at it. When you’ve matched wits with a vice principal for six years a grad student in public health is not that intimidating. General rules do not govern specific cases.

A further discussion can result in some questions of the randomness of nature.
1. Why did the microburst only take out half of the Bradford pear and nothing else on the property?
2. According to Native American lore (or possibly pioneer lore since Native Americans have not said everything they’re alleged to), the City of Topeka was protected from tornadoes by the location of Burnett’s mound in relation to the Kansas River. Why did the 1966 Tornado come over Burnett’s Mound?
3. Does lightning strike twice in the same place?


1. From Guys and Dolls, a Frank Loesser musical based on some short stories by Damon Runyon. Sky Masterson is a character based on WB (Bat) Masterson, a fellow sports writer with an interesting past.
2. The terms ed psych major, law student, lawyer and lab rat can be used interchangeably.


Logic & Statistics The Question

(c) Earl L. Haehl  Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.

Okay, homeschoolers out there and those who want to play with numbers. Back when I was in high school I was what we call a nerd. Those questions in calc that require graphing the answer we used to do with a slide rule and graph paper. What is the secret to math and logic? It’s a game.

The simplest introduction to statistics is the craft of the bookmaker. The game of chance presumes a random order. And the fall of the dice on the green table is not dependent on who is betting or how much. The dice are simply cubes with dots on them. When they roll they must land on one of those sides or we’ve found ourselves in one of the Rev Mr Dodgson’s mathematical fantasies where they could as easily balance on a corner or not land at all. I prefer dice to coins because with 36 possibilities they hold the attention longer.

A logical question based on a legitimate statistic is as follows:

1. A standard die has six sides and the odds of it landing on any side if tossed is 1 in 6.
2. 2 dice each have the same independent odds of landing on any side. However, the odds of both landing on specific numbers in order to have a specified total is related to 6×6 or 36 possibilities.
a. 2 1+1 1 in 36
b. 3 1+ 2, 2+1 2 in 36, 1 in 18
c, 4 1+3, 2+2. 3+1 3 in 36, 1 in 12
d. 5 1+4, 2+3, 3+2. 4+1 4 in 36, 1 in 9
e 6 1+5, 2+4, 3+3, 4+2, 5+1 5 in 36
f. 7 1+6, 2+5, 3+4, 4+3, 5+2, 6+1 6 in 36, 1 in 6
g. 8 2+6. 3+5. 4+4, 5+3, 6+2 5 in 36
h. 9 3+6, 4+5, 5+4, 6+3 4 in 36, 1 in 9
I. 10 4+6, 5+5. 6+4 3 in 36, 1 in 12
j 11 5+6, 6+5 2 in 36, 1 in 18
k, 12 6+6 1 in 36
3. The most likely number to be thrown (barring weighted dice) will be 7. The odds are still against any specific number being thrown.
4. To decide what the odds of throwing any lot of 7s you add the top numbers in the top and multiply the bottom. So for the odds on two in a row are 1+1/6×6 or 2 in 36.
5. The question is: Randy has rolled 100 7s in a row. Presuming this to be random and not the result of funny dice odds of this occuring 100 in 6.533186235 x 10 to the 77th power.

. Now 10 to the 77th power is 1 followed by 77 zeros—they have a way to represent it, but not a name.  Realize that looking at those zeroes can give you one heck of a headache. This is a number for use in statistics or quantum physics. So what are the odds when Randy picks up the dice again that he will roll a 7?