Patterico's Pontifications


Retired Harlem Drug Dealers Pick Predict Hillary will be the Next President

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Back in the 1970’s, Frank Lucas and Leroy “Nicky” Barnes were larger-than-life Harlem drug dealers:

“During the Harlem heroin plague of the seventies, few dealers were bigger than Frank Lucas and Leroy “Nicky” Barnes. Both made millions selling dope, lived the wide-brimmed-hat high life, enabled the addiction of whole neighborhoods, and, eventually, got caught. Both were locked up and later cooperated with authorities—some might call it snitching.

Now, with Lucas confined to a wheelchair and Barnes in some Witness Protection Program locale, each is the subject of a current film. Barnes reports on his life and times in the flava-full documentary Mr. Untouchable. Lucas hit the ultimate Hollywood jackpot, getting Denzel Washington, no less, to play him in American Gangster.”

Mark Jacobson in the New York Magazine engaged Barnes and Lucas in a conversation that included a good-natured debate over who was the biggest and best drug dealer and, like the businessmen they were, they agreed the title went to whoever had the best product at the time. Their conversation also took an interesting twist into politics:

“MJ: Rudy Giuliani chased both you guys when he was D.A. [sic] What do you think about him running for president?

NB: Giuliani would make a good president because he’s a principled guy.

FL: When Giuliani tells you something, he means it. But I don’t think we’re ready for an Italian president. I don’t think we’re ready for a black president. I don’t think we’re ready for a woman president, but I tell you right now: I think Hillary Clinton will win this thing hands down.

NB: Hillary will be the next president.

FL: No question about it.”

I’m not sure if this is good or bad news for Rudy or Hillary but it looks like Hillary has made believers out at least 2 retired Harlem drug kingpins.

PS – If you click the link, check out page 4 where the kingpins reminisce about Puffy Combs’ dad Melvin and share information about vitamin supplement products.


Scientists Unravel How HIV Came to the US

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 7:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

In surprising medical news, a group of scientists have tracked the genetic history of the AIDS virus and shown it traveled from Africa to Haiti and then entered the US around 1969:

“The AIDS virus entered the United States in about 1969 from Haiti, carried most likely by a single infected immigrant who set the stage for it to sweep the world in a tragic epidemic, scientists said on Monday. Michael Worobey, a University of Arizona evolutionary biologist, said the 1969 U.S. entry date is earlier than some experts had believed.

The timeline laid out in the study led by Worobey indicates that HIV infections were occurring in the United States for roughly 12 years before AIDS was first recognized by scientists as a disease in 1981. Many people had died by that point. “It is somehow chilling to know it was probably circulating for so long under our noses,” Worobey said in a telephone interview.

The researchers conducted a genetic analysis of stored blood samples from early AIDS patients to determine when the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) first entered the United States. They found that HIV was brought to Haiti by an infected person from central Africa in about 1966, which matches earlier estimates, and then came to the United States in about 1969.”

The AIDS virus is believed to have entered the human population from central African chimpanzees in about 1930, “probably when people slaughtered infected chimpanzees for meat.” For years, scientists have debated the path the virus took from there. Unlike past theories that were based largely on speculation, the hypothesis that HIV traveled from Africa to Haiti is considered to be 99.8% probable because of the genetic proof:

“The path the virus traveled as it jumped from nation to nation has long been debated by scientists.

The University of Miami’s Dr. Arthur Pitchenik, a co-author of the study, had seen Haitian immigrants in Miami as early as 1979 with a mystery illness that turned out to be AIDS. He knew the government long had stored some of their blood samples. The researchers analyzed samples from five of these Haitian immigrants dating from 1982 and 1983. They also looked at genetic data from 117 more early AIDS patients from around the world.

This genetic analysis allowed the scientists to calibrate the molecular clock of the strain of HIV that has spread most widely, and calculated when it arrived first in Haiti from Africa and then in the United States. The researchers virtually ruled out the possibility that HIV had come directly to the United States from Africa, setting a 99.8 percent probability that Haiti was the steppingstone.

“I think that it gives us more clear insight into the history of it (the AIDS epidemic) and what path the virus took — and hard objective evidence, not just armchair thinking,” Pitchenik said in a telephone interview.”

I know enough about medical research to say that understanding how a disease evolved can provide clues on how to treat and even cure it. That makes this one more piece of the puzzle.


October Stats

Filed under: Blogging Matters,General — Patterico @ 2:33 pm

Instapundit reports that his October stats show over 7 million page views:


NY Times: Don’t Read these Silly Books

Filed under: Books,Media Bias — DRJ @ 2:06 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Two recent books have become popular with parents who reject PC childrearing and want experiences for their children that are more like their own childhoods. The first book is “The Dangerous Book for Boys” and the most recent is “The Daring Book for Girls.”

The Instapundit and his wife Dr. Helen interviewed the authors of these books in two podcasts: “The Dangerous Book for Boys” podcast link is here and “The Daring Book for Girls” link is here.

One concept behind these books is that kids don’t do many hands-on things anymore. They don’t know how to repair things, they don’t understand how things work, and they don’t experiment with things anymore – let alone experiment and fail. Modern parents (myself included) expect and often get perfection from our kids but we may not be doing them any favors if we don’t let them learn things for themselves. In other words, while it’s true kids may be inept at everyday tasks, the greater issue is that too often we encourage them not to try new things because they might fail.

I guess this must be a conservative philosophy because today’s New York Times has an editorial entitled “Childhood for Dummies” that lambastes these books and, by implication, the concepts behind them [emphasis supplied]:

“Nostalgic parents who made a best seller of a faux- 1920s rough-and-tumble manual, “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” may soon do the same with its just-published companion, “The Daring Book for Girls.”

Here are some excerpts. Try these, girls, if you dare:

Page 57: “Putting Your Hair Up With a Pencil.”

Page 82: “The Daring Girls Guide to Danger.” (“5. Wear high heels.” “7. Try sushi or another exotic food.”)

Page 47: “Throwing the Ball.” (“Start with the ball in your right hand, stretching your arm straight out behind you. Standing with your feet apart, one forward and one slightly back, point your forward foot — or, the foot on the side of your glove hand — in the direction the ball will go …”)

Hmmm. Maybe the “Dangerous” boys’ version is more adventuresome:

Page 98: “Making a Paper Hat.”

Page 180: “Wrapping a Package in Brown Paper and String.”

Guess not.

Having read both books, we can assure you that very, very little in them is remotely dangerous or daring, and that anything on the borderline, like shooting bunnies (“Dangerous,” Page 238) or climbing trees (“Daring,” Page 158), is covered by a very strict NOTE TO PARENTS: “All of these activities should be carried out under adult supervision only.”

We’re not sure if that applies to Page 171 of “Dangerous”: “Skipping Stones.”

These books are so clearly not about daredeviltry.

They are about ineptitude. They seem to perfectly capture a fear, floating in the culture, that a generation of preoccupied parents has been raising a generation of children full of sophisticated knowledge that is useless when the power goes out or the batteries die. That children have superior thumb-joystick coordination and TV-plot-discernment abilities, but cannot tie their shoes. (We have Velcro for that now.)

How strange, yet telling, that parents would see a pair of $24.95 how-to manuals as the keys to a richer childhood. (Page 139: “To make a daisy chain, pick 20 or so daisies.”)

We do hope the trend dies out before the next book:

“Lying on your back in your crib, point your knees outward and draw your heels toward your stomach. Using both hands, grasp your left ankle, if you are right-handed (or right ankle, if left-handed), and slowly draw your toes into your mouth. Chew with caution!”

It is quite possible, of course, that these books are actually the driest form of satire — that their authors have pulled off a publishing coup with a deadpan earnestness worthy of Borat.

But oh, how cruel the joke, if so:

Page 247: “In one sense, hiking is just walking on a footpath that often angles up, but in the wilderness.”

Page 69: “Snowballs.” “To make a snowball, scoop up enough snow to fill your hands …”

There’s very little to say in response to this rant. The editors opt for sarcasm and contempt rather than logic and thoughtful consideration … but that’s something the New York Times seems to do more and more these days.


Aceapalooza West Update

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:40 am

By popular demand, here is an Aceapalooza West update.

I hung out with Ace and other bloggers and blog readers last night. I didn’t get to talk to Ace much, but that was okay, because I got to talk to him extensively Friday night, at a Yamashiro event that Ace seemed to enjoy, if this post is any indication.

I spent more time last night talking to Dafydd ab Hugh, Baldilocks, my occasional guest blogger Justin Levine, Clark Baker, and Andrew Breitbart. Also present was my friend Alex — who is the father of one of my daughter’s friends. He is a libertarian, and played the role of token Devil’s Advocate at the get-together, enraging people with his (somewhat exaggerated) tolerance for social engineering and his (very real) disdain for religion. Also present were several readers and commenters, both of Ace’s blog and mine. I had better not try to name any of them, because if I forget anyone, they will be offended. (OK, I saw Bradley J. Fikes, but didn’t get to talk to him at all.)

Aside from the hookers, the midgets, the ever-flowing booze, and the mud wrestling, it was a pretty tame evening.

UPDATE: I saw Little Miss Attila as well, of course. I forgot because I didn’t get to talk to her much.

What’s Sauce for the Rush Is Sauce for the Tim

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:17 am

Tim Rutten:

So what we have here is a president and vice president who want to install as the country’s chief law enforcement official a man who refuses to flatly say that the United States of America should not torture people.

The New York Times, October 18:

Mr. Mukasey also pleased the Democrats who control the Judiciary Committee by saying that he considered torture of terrorist suspects to be illegal under American and international law and that the president did not have the authority to order it under any circumstances.

“Torture is unlawful under the laws of this country,” Mr. Mukasey said. “It is not what this country is all about. It is not what this country stands for. It’s antithetical to everything this country stands for.”

(Rutten has a baroque explanation of what he actually meant by his words, but you probably have to be a regular reader of his to follow it.)

L.A. Times Shrugs Its Shoulders on Question That Has a Right Answer

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:46 am

The L.A. Times reports that Lane Garrison has been sentenced to 3 years, 4 months — but is agnostic on how much time he’ll actually serve:

On Wednesday, the actor, a former co-star on the Fox TV show “Prison Break,” was sentenced to 40 months in state prison. He had pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in May. His attorney Harland Braun said he expected Garrison would serve 20 months, minus about 91 days already served, but the prosecutor said he thought the actor would serve 85% of the sentence.

So who’s right? To that question, L.A. Times editors offer only one big shrug of the shoulders. Hey, one side says one thing, and the other side says something else. How are we supposed to get to the bottom of that?

Except that, unlike many things in life, there is a actual right answer to this question.

I’d give you the answer, but I can’t, because I don’t have enough information. Unlike the folks at the L.A. Times, I don’t know precisely what Garrison pled to, or how the 40-month sentence was calculated. I have no inside knowledge of this case, and news reports offer contradictory information about the precise offenses and allegations Garrison was charged with and pled to. I have tried to figure out how the judge arrived at a 40-month sentence from the various charges I have read that Garrison pled to, and I can’t figure it out. If I knew the answer to that question, I would be able to say with certainty whether he will receive 50% or 85% credit.

But I know this much: there is a right answer out there. And the paper should have obtained it and reported it.

Why didn’t the L.A. Times get an answer on this? Are they so used to churning out “he said, she said” journalism that they don’t recognize those situations where there is a definitive right answer?

UPDATE: Dave points out that my office issued a press release that clarified the offenses to which Garrison pled. But it doesn’t explain how the 40-month sentence was reached.

UPDATE x2: Making matters worse, I mistakenly called it “3 years, 8 months” initially, until a commenter noted my error. Everything I have read has said 40 months.

UPDATE x3: JRM has a plausible explanation here.

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