Friday Night AMV

It's all about the race. Think intergalactic "Cannonball Run".

'Night, Warrior

A better man than me, or than most, passes I trust to his gallant reward.

Snakes on a patio

It's getting so that when I walk into my vet's office, they look up and say, "Another snake bite?"  In a sure sign that spring is here, a water moccasin gave up the ghost at the base of my stairs this morning, but not before hitting the newest little 18-lb. squirt of a dog on the nose.  By the time the NPH got downstairs to see what all three dogs were making such a ruckus about, the snake's body was over here, and the head was over there, still hissing "to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee."

The little dog is not awfully swollen and has already been to the vet for injections of antibiotics and prednisone.  I didn't hear her squeal when the snake struck her, but when she got the shots you could hear her shriek a mile away.  She makes the same noise when I pull a sticker out of her foot, the little faker.  For that matter, if she's caught at the rear of the pack and can't get out the door fast enough, she emits the same ear-piercing scream, so that at first I thought I must have stepped on her and torn off a leg at least.  So she doesn't feel very well, but she seems to be OK.

I'm contending with venomous attacks myself.  Earlier this week some kind of critter stung me here and there on the back and side.  I never saw what it was, but the bites have turned into large angry red places, so I'm breaking down and seeing a doctor later this morning.  It's a hostile world.

She Sounds Vaguely Dissatisfied

I normally ignore the writings of Ms. Coulter, but the title of this piece (which the Jackson Clarion Ledger softened to "Thanks for nothing, Mickey Kaus") got my attention.

If the predictions of leading Obamacare adviser Ezekiel Emanuel's prediction that employer-based health care will be nearly destroyed by the ACA. Ezekiel, which is a very fitting name for a prophet of doom, thinks that about two-thirds of those who currently have employer-backed health care will lose it.

Waivers can drag this out for a while, but eventually people are going to get punched in the mouth.

Etiquette and Protocol

Every medium has them. Right, NBC?

I wonder how many people had heart attacks before they got to word nine?

Fire escape

So our little fireball turned out to be no big deal, but here's some nail-biting video from yesterday's five-alarm apartment-building fire in Houston.  (I recommend watching with the sound turned off.)  The construction worker shows real presence of mind.

Update:  Hey, didn't anyone like this?  I thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Our pipeline just blew up

Nobody was hurt, as far as I can tell.  Maybe an oyster boat caught the pipeline with its dragline.  Besides the impressive video, the main effect seems to be that our peninsula will be without natural gas for the foreseeable future.  Luckily we're on a propane tank, being the extra-boonified section of this part of the boonies.

Cool tech

Someone pointed me to IEEE Spectrum for better than usual science journalism.  Here are some catchy articles about nano-labs on tiny fiber-optic tubes, infrared contact lenses, and (for Cassandra) an electrical tiara said to relieve migraine headaches.


Koch Derangement Syndrome.  If it weren't for the leftist press and certain close relatives, I'd never even have heard of the Koch brothers, although it turns out they control all my thoughts.  Harry Reid can't seem to shut up about them lately, in his increasing desperation to change the subject.  The Washington Post ran a typical hit piece recently, blaming the Koch brothers' support for the Keystone XL pipeline (about which they have been studiously neutral) on their status as the biggest lessees of the associated tar sands (which is untrue).  John Hinderaker (PowerLine) ran an intelligent response.  The Washington Post struck back, explaining that it's not important whether an article is both false and malicious, as long as it promotes spirited debate.  It's an interesting approach; would the WaPo be pleased with a thought-provoking article accusing Barack Obama of kidnapping and eating the passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?

Hinderaker replies again, with an attempt to demystify the double-standard:
So we have a contrast that couldn’t be clearer:  the Washington Post published a false story about support for Keystone because it fit the Democratic Party’s agenda.  It covered up a similar, but true story about [wealthy Democratic donor Tom Steyer's] opposition to the pipeline (and about “green” politics in general) because that, too, fit the Democratic Party’s agenda.  I don’t think we need to look any further to connect the dots.

This Should Be Fun

Anyone want to take Paul Krugman's side against Nate Silver?
Similarly, climate science has been developed by many careful researchers who are every bit as good at data analysis as Silver, and know the physics too, so ignoring them and hiring a known irresponsible skeptic to cover the field is a very good way to discredit your enterprise. Economists work hard on the data; on the whole you’re going to do better by tracking their research than by trying to roll your own, and you should be very wary if your analysis runs counter to what a lot of professionals say.

Basically, it looks as if Silver is working from the premise that the supposed experts in every field are just like the political analysts at Politico, and that there is no real expertise he needs to take on board. If he doesn’t change that premise, his enterprise is going to run aground very fast.
My guess is that he's right about that: not that there is no expertise anywhere, but that the loud claims to expertise are safely -- indeed wisely -- ignored.

Goodness knows that you'd have made a ton of money in 2008 if you'd bet heavily on an analysis that 'ran counter to what a lot of professional economists said.' You'd still be making money, in fact: economic stories featuring the word "unexpectedly" have become a joke, they're so common.


Here's something you don't see every day.

The Path By The Water

The British legal system has decided to accept the inequality of women, at least for Islamic wills.
Under ground-breaking guidance, produced by The Law Society, High Street solicitors will be able to write Islamic wills that deny women an equal share of inheritances and exclude unbelievers altogether.
"High Street" is a British term roughly equivalent to the American "Main Street." What's being discussed here is not a centralized action, then, but the kind of thing that will flow naturally from small actors across the country.

Cultural Degradation

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a piece explaining why he thinks white progressives are wrong to assign 'cultural residue' from Jim Crow a leading role in the problems afflicting the black community. I think he has to be right about this part of his argument:
In his masterful history, Reconstruction, the historian Eric Foner recounts the experience of the progressives who came to the South as teachers in black schools. The reformers "had little previous contact with blacks" and their views were largely cribbed from Uncle Tom's Cabin. They thus believed blacks to be culturally degraded and lacking in family instincts, prone to lie and steal, and generally opposed to self-reliance.... In short, white progressives coming South expected to find a black community suffering the effects of not just oppression but its "cultural residue." ...

[What they actually found was that b]y 1870, a large majority of blacks lived in two-parent family households, a fact that can be gleaned from the manuscript census returns but also "quite incidentally" from the Congressional Ku Klux Klan hearings, which recorded countless instances of victims assaulted in their homes, "the husband and wife in bed, and … their little children beside them."

The point here is rich and repeated in American history—it was not "cultural residue" that threatened black marriages. It was white terrorism, white rapacity, and white violence. And the commitment among freedpeople to marriage mirrored a larger commitment to the reconstitution of family, itself necessary because of systemic white violence.

"In their eyes," wrote an official from the Freedmen's Bureau, in 1865. "The work of emancipation was incomplete until the families which had been dispersed by slavery were reunited."
Coates goes on to impute from this that the problems afflicting the black society today are also due to white supremacy, which systematically damages black attempts to live together in the family structures they would prefer if un-oppressed.

I'm unpersuaded by that conclusion, and I'll tell you why. The difference between the 1865 case and the 1950-present case is that, in the present case, the collapse of marriage and family is occurring across all "racial" demographics. Some of these groups are more afflicted than others, but all are afflicted, and the afflictions track each other.

The likelihood isn't that blacks are being forced by some white supremacist structure not to marry, or to divorce. It is that there is a broader cultural degradation -- affecting the whole of American culture, and many other cultures worldwide, especially in the First world -- that is destroying the family as an institution.

It is the same force that is destroying the other human connections that serve as a bulwark between the atomic individual, alone and weak, and the power of the almighty state. The heritage of white supremacy, or its ongoing structures to whatever degree they exist, could at most explain why the black family began its collapse before the white family, which also explains why black families are less likely to be strong today than white families or Hispanic families.

But all these families are collapsing along the same trend line.