Zika Virus

Mosquito

If you haven’t noticed, the new world health crisis is the Zika virus transmitted via the common mosquito:

There’s another big health concern that’s all over the news, and it’s behind this week’s Words You’ll Hear. That’s the segment where we try to understand stories we’ll be hearing more about in the coming days by parsing some of the words associated with those stories. Today, our word is Zika. That’s the name of a mosquito-borne virus that’s been detected in parts of the Caribbean and Central and South America, especially in Brazil, where it’s being blamed for a spike in birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control has issued travel advisories for women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

You’re humble contributing editor suggests a single course of action.

DDT

A 1978 National Cancer Institute report concluded—after two years of testing on several different strains of cancer-prone mice and rats—that DDT was not carcino-genic.36 As for the DDT-caused eggshell thinning, it is unclear whether it did, in fact, occur and, if it did, whether the thinning was caused by DDT, by mercury, by PCBs, or by the effects of human encroachment.16,37 And as recently as 1998 researchers reported that thrush eggshells in Great Britain had been thinning at a steady rate 47 years before DDT hit the market; the researchers placed the blame on the early consequences of industrialization.

By all means, let’s ban a cure saving millions of life for … well, for nothing.

It’s Over

Go

A computer has just beaten a Go champion:

On Wednesday, in a research paper released in Nature, Google earned its own position in the history books, with the announcement that its subsidiary DeepMind has built a system capable of beating the best human players in the world at the east Asian board game Go.

There are more possible moves than there are atoms in the universe.  It’s only a matter of time before the machines terminate the human race.

White Privilege

White Priviledge

Before the whole San Bernadino incident, race and race relations were front and center in America.  We had incidents involving cops in Ferguson, Cleveland and Baltimore.  We had South Carolina.  We had Mizzou.  #BLM was a leading story in the news.  Since then the nation hasn’t continued the conversation with the same attention.

I was recently asked to read this article trying to describe the concept of white privilege to a white person.  It’s a good article – go read it.  I mean, this is the opening:

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive.

It’s tough to describe my feelings more accurately.

But, back to the article.

I know that it’s an analogy but I have to point to what I’m sure is a flaw – namely that the author can decide to stop riding a bike at any time.  This is, of course, a luxury not afforded to people of color.  That being said, the rest of the article mostly resonates with me.

Kinda.

I get that there are difficulties in every day life that my black friends and family have to deal with that I don’t.  I get that there are head winds.  And I even get that these head winds exist unbeknownst to my conscience self.  They just.

Are.

But my problem with the article, and with the conversation in the larger spectrum, is that we don’t wanna make the experience of the bike rider the same as the car driver – indeed, we want the bike riders to become car drivers.

My comments to a friend sometime ago sums it up: slightly edited.

I have little to no problem with the acknowledgment that I have it ‘easier’ because I have won almost all categories:

White, male, Christian, Protestant, educated, middle class

I get that you can drop me in nearly any city in America and I’ll be fine.

My problem isn’t the acknowledgement of the existence of the construct – it’s the weaponization.

I get the privilege – I resent being told, in a discussion, that I need to ‘check mine’.

I kinda resonate with the author when he says, ‘we are not people’ because it validates that ‘checking my white male privilege’ is bullshit. Just because I live in the construct doesn’t mean I live my life according to it.

And finally, there are things I still have to do. I actually had to go to school, to study and graduate. And then go to more school. I had to go to church and be part of a faith community.   I got a job when I was 10 – and have been earning a paycheck since then – 37 years!  I had to get a residence and keep it – clean, and kept and safe.

And now – I am engaged in my community. I belong to lodges, and teams, and neighborhood groups. I organize people and let myself be organized for reasons that do good.

I absolutely, every single time, calmly pull over, put both my hands on the steering wheel and calmly and slowly tell the officer that my wallet is in my hip pocket and that I’m going to reach for it now. And I teach my kids the same thing.

There is a construct, a ‘privilege’ but the dirty secret is that we don’t wanna keep people out – we want more people to live according to it.

Finally, the ending of the construct, the tearing down of white privilege has begun – begun but not yet completed.  That is obvious.  What might be lost, or forgotten due to the righteous injustice of it all, is that the end will resemble more a sunrise than a light switch.

 

 

Happy New Year

From me to you – best in 2016!

Walmart vs FEMA

Market Efficiency

Walmart every time.  Why?  Because, mostly Walmart is about selling things people want more than they are about retain power – which is what FEMA, and every government agency, is about.

 

UPDATE:

“Commerce civilizes us.   It makes us more peaceful.  It makes us want to treat each other better.”

Awesome.

Refreshing View of the Missouri University Protests

I have my own thoughts regarding the protests going on around the country at our universities.  But I’ll leave it to a fantastic liberal poly-sci professor here at NC State to sum it up:

Through all the reporting of the University of Missouri situation, I can’t help but think the “offenses” of the University President are not the sort for which one should lose one’s job.  Does anybody actually think for a second that Wolfe condones racism on campus?  Does a college president have to issue an official statement saying “racism is wrong and has no place on our campus” anytime somebody hears the n-word?  Everybody already knows this– right?  And everybody already knows the university president surely believes this– right?  So why does he need to lose his job over this.  Now, it would be one thing if there was something institutional about racism at University of Missouri (that is, more insitutional there than institutional racism is anywhere else, of course), but the events that formed the initial basis of the protests seemingly have nothing to with Missouri as an institution accept for the fact that some of the people who attend it (or at least drive through campus) are racists.

Does anyone think that the administrations of these universities, including Yale for gads sake, are not through and through liberals who are otherwise allies to those seeking racial equality?

Where The Syrian Refugee

Syrian Refugee

Much discussion, emotion and hand wringing is due the issue of the refugee fleeing  home due to the war in that nation.

The question is – “What do we do with these people?”

There is only one answer – “Let them in.”

There can only be one answer that America can offer when the world is confused and is searching for the way forward.  When people everywhere don’t know what to do, when they doubt themselves and others and are in a desperate search for the noble, the honorable and the compassion – they always, whether they like it or not, look to America as the beacon that shows them the way.  That shines through the storm clouds and leads them to safe harbor?

And why is this the case, always the case?

Because it is who we are.

Period.

It is normal and easy to be afraid; the desire to close the gate and lock the door is common, understandable.  But we are UNcommon.  Ours is not the easy way – our way has always been fraught with peril and dangers.  And we have always, ALWAYS demonstrated the strength of our will and our way.  It is why people who are afraid come here – it is why the world immigrates to America and not the other way around.

Now, can we take steps to be more safe than less?  Sure.  Should states have rights in who they let in?  I think so.  Are there methods that we can employ to make this easier?  Absolutely.

If we are afraid of the militant – we can require that any refugee be part of an intact family.  We can accept mother, father and children.  It could be said that the most at risk Syrians are the widows and the orphans – the families who have lost their men due to the conflict.  Certainly the widow and her orphaned children can be accommodated?

Further – we know that we can’t take ALL the refugees fleeing Syria.  There are very real concerns that an immigrant population may grow to a size that makes assimilation next to impossible.  It has been forever a unique American experience that anyone can become American.  The corollary to this phenomenon is that there is an implicit expectation that the immigrant make every effort to hustle that process along as fast as she can.  So we take those that we are able and pray for those remaining outside our door.

But we take those that we can.  Because, to fail in this regard is to walk away from the very thing that makes us great.

Truly great.

I am reminded of the charge of the gentle craft that brings me comfort monthly:

Remember that, around this alter, you have promised to befriend and relieve every brother who shall need your assistance.  You have promised, in the most friendly manner, to remind him of his errors and aid a reformation.  These generous principles are to extend further.  Every human being has claim upon your kind offices.

Do good unto all.

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill – Volumes and Values

DeepRiver Oil Spill

Last month I posted on the impact of the Deepwater oil spill as it related to food safety.  Commentor Corey C made good point that safety is only one aspect of the catch being impacted; the size of the catch is important as is the value of that catch.

I found The United States Seafood Market Report:

The total volume of fish harvested off the U.S. Gulf coast varied widely during the last five years due to fluctuations in the Menhaden catch. Total landings averaged approximately 634,000 MT from 2009-2013, but ranged from a low of 486,000 MT in 2010 to a high of 813,000 MT in 2011. During this period, the menhaden catch fluctuated from a low of 342,000 MT in 2010 to a high of 634,000 MT in 2011. Excluding Menhaden, total volume declined by 14% from 196,000 MT in 2009 to 169,000 MT in 2013. The entire Gulf region was impacted by the Deep Horizon oil spill, which lowered harvest volumes in 2010.

It turns out that Corey was correct; the volume was impacted due to the spill.  I don’t think that anyone would be surprised by that knowledge – throwing that much oil, that amount of chemicals in the water is gonna kill a lot of stuff.

Devastating.

And the value of that catch?

Despite the fluctuations in total landings, the value of fish harvested in the Gulf of Mexico has generally been increasing. Total value increased by 48% from $636 million in 2009 to $940 million in 2013, primarily due to increases in the prices of shrimp.

This surprised me.  I would have thought the value of the catch to fall with the volume – the idea being that volumes elsewhere would have stayed consisted driving the price stable; a stable price with falling catches would have decreased the value.

So, as far as the “seafood” is concerned, the fact that we are seeing diminished volumes is ‘bad’.  That’s assuming the populations rise and fall with the catch – or rather vice versa.  However, the good news for the fishermen is that their take home pay should be increasing.

Upside Down: Wherein The Liberal Agrees With Pino

Upside Down

After all this time, The Atlantic agrees with Pino.

First, the backstory.

For the better part of a decade, and really longer because I’m only counting the time I have been engaged in a structured format, I’ve been frustrated by the debate when discussing events of the day with my more liberal friends.

“We need to raise the minimum wage!”

“I disagree, I would rather that wage remain lower.  After all, we want to empower more and more people to work for compensation they’re willing to work for.”

“You are greedy and hate poor people!”

I walk away frustrated.  Frustrated not because my ideas were shown to be incorrect or flawed, but rather that I lost the opportunity to debate those ideas.  I didn’t know how to interact.

I’ve seen my flaw.  Above, my friend isn’t working to change *my* mind, he’s working to change the minds of the people *listening* to us.  If he can make me greedy and hateful, he can associate that with my policies.   He’s deftly switching policy for intention and has ZERO interest in having an open and earnest discourse.

The trick, of course, is to make explicit as soon as possible that we both have the same intention, whatever that might be.  We just differ on the path.

How delicious then, to see that the inmates are running the asylum:

Hundreds of Yale students are attacking them, some with hateful insults, shouted epithets, and a campaign of public shaming. In doing so, they have shown an illiberal streak that flows from flaws in their well-intentioned ideology.

The only aspect in which I disagree with ‘The Atlantic’ is the manner in which they make this tactic appear like an ‘oops’.  It’s not.  It’s deliberate and it’s horrible.

Musings on Young Leftists

leftist youth

I have virtually no idea what folks are protesting at Missouri – something concerning a culture of fear I think.  Or oppression.  Or bigotry.

All things we should agree to want to see less of rather than more of, to be sure.

But this post isn’t about the cause or the reason or the specific event; it’s about the protest itself, the people that protest and the tactics they employ.

First, watch this video:

 

Not sure how I’d react if I was the dad of one of those wilting daisies in the video.  At first I was pretty irritated at those college kids in the footage, but having had time to reflect, I can see that these kids are being driven by the adults in the confrontation.

But really, these people, this protest movement; how are we supposed to take them seriously?  How do we interface and converse with people who have completely lost their mind?  How do you have a conversation with people who have NO room for debate?  Any dissension from their perfect point of view is met with HATE and INTOLERANCE.

How do you have a conversation with someone that can’t see a journalism student has the same right to the square as the protesters?

How do you have meaningful discourse with someone who advocates “No bad touch” and yet is quite willing to assault a photographer?

How do you debate the tender mercies of tolerance with someone who has none?

What kind of meaningful conversation regarding institutional intimidation can be had with people who very clearly mean to intimidate?

The answer?  None and you can’t.

The only, and I mean ONLY, upside to this whole thing is the incestual nature of the fight.  We don’t have liberals fighting conservatives or dems and repubs.  We don’t even have the 99% vs the 1%.  Here we have intellectual elite vs themselves.  We have privileged college administrators squaring off with the frankenstein they themselves created.

It reminds me of the old saw: “Mr. President, in a war between Iran and Iraq, who do you root for?”

Casualties.

These university administrators have fostered and coddled this behavior.   They have created it.  And nurtured it.  They own it.  I shed no tears for those administrators that lost their jobs.

Oh, and finally, how do you take this woman seriously:

Dr. Melissa A. Click earned her Ph.D. from the Department of Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research interests center on popular culture texts and audiences, particularly texts and audiences disdained in mainstream culture. Her work in this area is guided by audience studies, theories of gender and sexuality, and media literacy. Current research projects involve 50 Shades of Grey readers, the impact of social media in fans’ relationship with Lady Gaga, masculinity and male fans, messages about class and food in reality television programming, and messages about work in children’s television programs.

Further goodness from here:

Click’s dissertation for her Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts Amherst was about the “commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon,” according to her CV. You can read the full dissertation here.

This the woman screeching for more ‘muscle’ to handle the ‘free’ press.

Liberals.