Linky Friday #121: Slimy Critters

United States:

rural west virginia photo

Image by dbnunley

[US1] If you’ve lived or work there, Minnesota may owe you money. But if so, they aren’t telling. Some years ago I found out Deltona owed me money (somewhere between $100-200, if I recall). I found out about it shortly before I found out that it was going to claim it outright. My wife just got a notice from Estacado that the state owes her money.

[US2] Once we get rid of the Confederate emblem on Mississippi’s flag, and the Union Jack on Hawaii’s, I want to go after state seals next. Relatedly, here are some great and terrible flags of cities in Texas.

[US3] How Appalachians and ruralians became the new noble savages.

[US4] Francis Wilkinson blames illegal immigration on baby boomers.

[US5] America’s true silent majority: German-Americans. I’ve got some German on my mother’s side.

[US6] A peek inside the birth tourism industry. In the greater scheme of things, this sort of thing isn’t likely to involve the kind of numbers to have an effect.

Housing:

small house photo

Image by daryl_mitchell

[H1] Erica Barnett looks at new rules in Seattle that would serve to limit density.

[H2] A report suggests that Austin needs to increase the number of granny flats

[H3] Jes Howen McBride says that small homes make for better cities.

[H4] Sweet: Turning a silo into the ultimate treefort.

[H5] Housing in some suburbs are being consolidated, swallowing up multiple more modest homes to make room for mansions. One of the reasons that inequality is more felt in urban and land-scarce areas than elsewhere. {More}

Society:

Photo: Andreas Praefcke

Photo: Andreas Praefcke

[So1] Varad Mehta says that we can’t let the Wookies win, but Anthony Domanico disagrees.

[So2] Friend of Trumwill Abel Keogh is quoted in this story about sex and the grieving widower.

[So3] It looks like Terry Pratchett will have no successor to write the Discworld novels.

[So4] From Oscar Gordon: Gotta hand it to the Girl Scouts: $100K is no small thing to turn down

[So5] In Mansfield, Ohio, Stranger Danger training has possibly saved children from a nefarious man who got out of his car to wave to his children.

[So6] So what’s the deal with the medieval art with knights fighting snails?

[So7] From Oscar Gordon: And so it begins

Education:

[E1] Ricardo Hausmann argue that the relationship between education and economic progress is more mixed than we think.

[E2] Cleveland State wants its students to graduate on time, and they’re willing to pay for it. As we seek to hold colleges accountable for the results of their students’ progress, there may be more programs like this – and more done to entice the very students most likely to graduate on time. It’s an interesting set of incentives.

[E3] Jane The Actuary looks at College For All, Lee Siegel, and path dependency, with an eye towards Europe’s different expectations for its college-bound than we have.

[E4] Emma Pierson contemplates being an affirmative action admit.

[E5] Kevin Carey argues in favor of a national university, making heavy use of technology as a way to address runaway costs. This idea might sound familiar to you. The George Washington angle is great. Too bad “George Washington University” is taken.

[E6] The business of fake diplomas. Not those ones from unaccredited colleges that give credit for “life experience”… but rather, completely fake ones from real schools (or, at least potentially, fake ones). I wonder if there’s one I can get for Will Truman from Southern Tech University, to put aside the one with my real name and real institution.

Science:

waves photo

Image by ahisgett

[Sc1] From Oscar Gordon: Cleaning up oil with sugar.

[Sc2] From Oscar Gordon: Wave power test bed.

[Sc3] From Oscar Gordon: New property of light discovered.

[Sc4] From Oscar Gordon: Garbage to gas

[Sc5] Jose Duarte says that the “97% consensus” on climate change is closer to 80%, and InsideClimate investigates why TV meteorologists are among the dissenters.

[Sc6] Relatedly, Francie Diep looks at physicians who don’t believe in evolution.

Nature:

[N1] Whenever there is a breakout at the zoo, it’s only the flamingos that get away. Here’s why.

[N2] From aaron david: A facinating tale of hippos in America.

[N3] Huh. Ick. Goodness, gracious. What the hell, mother nature? I mean, what the hell? Good grief: what. the. hell?

[N4] On the other hand, ants are really cool.

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168 thoughts on “Linky Friday #121: Slimy Critters

  1. US4: It isn’t really the Baby Boomers fault that they were born during an unprecedented economic boom in a country with a great system of public education. Any rational person under those circumstances would want a high paying rather than low paying job.

    US5: German-Americans are mainly invisible because of World War I, Prohibition, and World War II. Before that they really insisted on maintaining their cultural identity as Germans. This including making sure their American born kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids were fluent in German. The unpopularity of Germany caused by World War I changed this.

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    • My church, in Baltimore, still has German language services. We were exclusively German language until WWI. Before the US got into the war, the submarine Deutschland had sailed up the Chesapeake and into Baltimore harbor. The British embassy pitched a fit, but nothing was done, since the Deutschland was an unarmed, privately owned merchant vessel, which happened to be a submarine. The idea had been to use it to transport high value, high density cargo such as tungsten. (This turned out to be a bad idea economically, even in wartime conditions.) So in any case, the Deutschland sails into the harbor. My church goes crazy: flags flying, bands, invitations to the officers and crew: the whole shebang. Then not long after, the US declared war, and the Deutschland episode turned out to be deeply embarrassing. The church switch to frantic displays of American patriotism: (different) flags flying, bands (playing different music), our Sunday school wing was turned over to the Red Cross for the duration, and so forth. We also started holding services in English, in addition to the German services. Federal agents routinely attended services and took notes. The whole episode makes me think of what it must be like for mosques in America. (The church still goes a little crazy whenever a German navy ship is in town. This has happened twice in the past twelve years, and the church goes all out. I don’t know what the officers and crew make of this.)

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      • The Lutherans were one of two Protestant denominations in the United States totally opposed to Prohibition. The other Protestant church opposed to Prohibition were the Episcopalians. A lot of Anglo-Protestants thought that German Protestants were bad because they didn’t oppose beer and drank it after church on Sunday.

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        • We also were OK with playing baseball on Sunday, which all respectable persons (most definitely including Episcopalians) regarded as a ticket straight to hell. Here is a joke about it, from 1878:

          ‘An Ohio minister recently asked a lad “Young man, do you know where the boys go to who play base ball on the Sabbath?” “Yes, sir; they go down to ‘Squire Allen’s big field.”’

          Sunday baseball tended to be only found in regions with large Catholic or German Protestant populations, which had the benefit that it could be yet another degenerate practice ascribed to those dirty immigrants. It wasn’t legal everywhere until around 1920. The joke is that Yankee Stadium isn’t the House that Ruth Built, it is the House that Sunday Baseball Built.

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        • Ah, my people! :) German on both sides. Via Ohio on my Dad’s side and…quite direct on my mother’s side.

          Sadly never did learn German, but did develop a taste for beer and sauerkraut.

          I can also assure you that having a German grandmother means that your bedtime songs are terrifying if they’re translated for you, the book of fairly tales she had at her place was the uncensored stuff (you know, red hot irons and such), and that it’s hilarious to ask her about German traditions you learned about in school, because she’ll sniff and say that real Germans didn’t do that, just the crazies near Austria or something.

          Also, I grew up listening to quite a bit of traditional German music at my grandmother’s, so even now the sound of accordion and tuba make me think of family. :)

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  2. H3 “Smaller homes require more activities to be experienced in the public realm. Restaurants become a dining room for large gatherings, and bars become a living room for watching sports with friends. With no room for private pools or exercise equipment, people work out in local parks, public pools, or gyms. Those without private yards must take their dogs for regular walks on the street or visit the neighborhood dog park..”

    “You cannot fully curate your urban life: the people who enter your personal space, the sounds or smells you experience, and the timeframe in which events occur are largely outside your control, but in turn you also contribute to others’ experiences. ”

    Two of the reasons why I don’t like cities. I don’t WANT more of my activities in the public realm.

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      • Could you expand on that? I ask because I think I feel the same way for similar reasons (if I’m reading you right). I prefer cities (although smaller ones than Big City) to small towns precisely because I feel there’s more privacy (via anonymity) than I think I would enjoy in a smallish town. However, I’ve never lived in a smallish town, so maybe I’m wrong.

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        • Once, when I was 16, I was driving home from something or other and had to turn left off a busy street with no light. I turned a little too close to a car coming the other direction, which had to hit its breaks hard as a result. I was not 5 minutes from my house, but by the time I got home my mother was waiting outside and asked me if I’d had any trouble on the road. She then banned me from turning there.

          In under than 5 minutes someone who had seen me turning and was concerned, got home (this is before almost anyone had a mobile phone), called my mom, and told her what happened. With enough time left over for my mom to come outside and wait for me. Small town.

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        • It isn’t the privacy via anonymity. I like being around and with other people. spoke of preferring to do certain things in private. I’m the opposite. I’ve worked out in gyms and at home and greatly prefer the former. I eat in and eat out and greatly prefer the latter.

          When you put alot of people in a tight space, you’re forced to rub elbows with them. I enjoy that. Not everyone does. That is why I enjoy cities and city-ish areas.

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          • Ah, I see. I guess my preferences are more in line with Damon’s than with yours, then, although I do like the occasional public-ness of cities, and I especially like not having to own a car, with all the worry and money that owning entails.

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              • I’m probably extremely introverted. I get my energy by being alone. Not that I always want to be alone, but I need time by myself every day to recharge, and especially after being out at a party or whatnot.

                To each their own.

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                • Have you seen this, ?

                  http://iwastesomuchtime.com/on/?i=63454

                  It really helped me understand myself as an extrovert and the many introverts around me. I always thought it was about being shy versus outgoing, or having social skills. As you note, it is about where we get energy from and where we expend it.

                  I’m on my own this weekend, which is great… yet I can’t go very long before I start craving human interaction and seeking it out.

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                  • Thanks for the link, . I hadn’t seen it before, but will give it an overview.

                    My wife, who is an extrovert, is the first person who clued me in to that way of looking at it (i.e., that extroverts get their energy from others and introverts from solitude). She’s very very understanding about such things.

                    ETA: I said above that I’m “extremely” introverted, and that’s probably not wholly true. I do like the idea of working around people, and I get a certain amount of energy/enjoyment by just being around my coworkers.

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                    • There is another link that goes into more depth on both Es and Is that I can’t seem to find right now. I believe that was the one my wife found that described folks like me as a “succubus”, given our penchant for consuming all of a person’s energy with our incessant connection-seeking.

                      But this way of thinking is INCREDIBLY helpful. I used to think if I just encouraged my more introverted friends to socialize more, they’d “get over it”. Fail.

                      It is also really helpful when working with young people who may not yet know such things about themselves but no doubt demonstrate the tendencies. Understanding that Sam is withdrawing not because he is upset or anti-social but because he needs to recharge allows me to meet his needs and recognizing that Jessie is bugging out a bit because she hasn’t connected with peers in a while allows me to respond appropriately to her.

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                      • I do sometimes fear–and here I’m thinking only of myself and not introverts in general–that it’s possible for introverts to take advantages of those who understanding and to make demands on them. I, for example, probably require at least slightly less time/space than I claim.

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                  • I’m sitting outside right now to leach off my neighbors, who will inevitably come by, sit with me, talk to me, offer me beer or take one of mine, and otherwise fill my social tanks. One of my neighbors, who is similarly social, will join me frequently, with her dog, and we’ll hold court as people just drop by.

                    This is a lot like small town living, which is probably why I feel at home.

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                      • I don’t mean to imply that it is unique, but I’ve lived in a few “city” neighborhoods now, and spent time in several more, and it is definitely not all that common.

                        My neighborhood is actually quite dense, too, so it’s very “city” in some ways.

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        • I’m going to second what said. I grew up in a small town. Pop 4000. When the dog got loose and was wandering around looking for something to hump, folks a mile away would call us up and tell my mom where our dog was. And he wasn’t collared with an id tag either.

          I was asked several times if I was “so and so’s son” and everyone knew everyone’s business. I don’t want to go back to that. I like my privacy and I like my space. I like the ability of going into the city to experience it and then leaving. I don’t like it 24/7. I’ve been in manhattan several times. Nice to visit. Wouldn’t wanna live there.

          My lady friend lives in the city. We’ve talked about housing there. Nothing that gives me what I want is within my price range unless it’s a long term fixer upper. Not gonna happen. Why pay that much when I can get better, more space between myself and others, and cheaper taxes, by staying in the suburbs?

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          • For the record, , I find absolutely nothing wrong with your perspective. Different strokes for different folks. I’m glad we both have the opportunity to identify and live in the sort of community we want to live in. Just want to make sure that was clear.

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            • We’re cool

              That is one of the things that I like about this country. There’s still enough freedom to go around so that you can have what you want and I can have what I want. :)

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              • I mean, personally, I’d like to harvest you and your ilk to burn as fuel to power the ever expanding cities of America but, I mean, I guess if you want to do your thing somewhere far away with sufficient empty space between you and I, I can consume enough kale, locally made microbrew, and free trade Ethiopian food to get by.

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                • Just don’t come around my place. The sign says “Trespassers will be shot. Survivors will be shot again.” for a reason. I’m thinking of adding another that replaces “tresspassers” with “Solicitors and/or Politicians”

                  And I was eating kale before it became trendy And Ramps. Now where can I find me one of them “blood diamonds”?

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      • Well, to each thieir own, but for me:

        I don’t like working out in parks or gyms. The last time I worked out in a gym, the tvs were set above the treadmills for Fox News and MSNBC and ESPN. Fox and MSNBC had on the SAME topics being argued from different sides and it was inane on each. No way to change the channels.

        I don’t like watching sporting events in bars.

        I like having space. Especially if I’m living with someone. My suburban town home has a basement where I can work out watching what I choose, a place to sleep, place for my office, and some outdoor space for grilling/cooking/entertaining.

        Why would I want to live in a tiny space surrounded by noise, annoying idiots, and the rest, when I can live in quiet enjoyment somewhere else with more space?

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      • Wait… what do you find unsurprising?

        And you really, REALLY need to stop conflating, “I don’t like this,” (which very clearly said) with, “There is something wrong with this.” Similarly, you need to avoid conflating, “I like this,” with, “This is objectively superior, desirable, and policy should promote it.”

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  3. E3-This piece was less than convincing. In order to get American higher education to be more like European higher education, your going to have to change a lot. This includes a lot of things really beloved by tens of millions of Americans like high school and college sports. European schools don’t function as socialization mechanisms because the municipalities and other public institutions take up the slack. I’m also not really sure that Americans would go for a system that separates the college bound from the non-college bound at a relatively early age or the matriculation exams that exist in most European countries, which are a lot more difficult than the SATs and SAT IIs.

    E4-A national university seems rather redundant. My alma matter, American University, was the result of failed attempt to create a national university in the late 19th century.

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    • I think you’re potentially misreading E3 and partially agreeing with it.

      Potential misreading:

      In order to get American higher education to be more like European higher education, your going to have to change a lot. This includes a lot of things really beloved by tens of millions of Americans like high school and college sports. European schools don’t function as socialization mechanisms because the municipalities and other public institutions take up the slack.

      The author, if I read her right, seems to be saying that massive funding of tuition for all would come with tradeoffs, one of which is that university education would have to be more bare-bones than it is in the US.

      Partially agreeing:

      I’m also not really sure that Americans would go for a system that separates the college bound from the non-college bound at a relatively early age or the matriculation exams that exist in most European countries, which are a lot more difficult than the SATs and SAT IIs.

      I read E3 as making the exact point, if more by implication.

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    • A worthwhile piece of “stranger” related advice: should you ever find yourself in need of a stranger’s help (with your kid or otherwise), be proactive and ask. Odds of you picking the dangerous person are exceedingly low, especially if you have decent situational awareness. A person offering help is very likely safe as well, but could be an opportunistic threat.

      But I espouse Skenazy’s approach: “Talk to strangers. Then they won’t b strangers anymore!”

      True story: i was at the park with Mayo and Little Marcus Allen. I was changing the latter while the former played with a couple older kids he met. They went to leave with their father and upon realizing his friends left, tried to follow them out into the parking lot. I couldn’t jump up and run after Mayo or he’d have thought we were playing “chase” and ran further into the lot. Instead I firmly but calmly told him to stop. Another father saw what was going on and slowly moved toward Mayo (I was about 100 feet away). We made eye contact and I gave him a nod. He approached Mayo, took him by the hand, and walked him back. Had Mayo internalized “stranger danger”, he might have run from the guy. But he’s super social and usually wants to interact with whomever he sees. My plan is to teach him what to do if he finds himself in an actually potentially dangerous situation rather than instill in him a fear that the world itself is dangerous.

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  4. H2: well, that’s the first time people I know have been in a linky Friday!

    N3: Every time I think, “Australia is so beautiful, I need to go there,” something like this comes up, and I realize I’m never going anywhere near that accursed island.

    N4: Sometimes I think ants are really just navigational systems on 8 legs.

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  5. US4: I am with Lee on this one. Plus it might not be as true as Wilkinson thinks:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/podcasts/173882/jewish-immigration-quota-laws

    US5: The German-American bund actively supported the Nazis. New York had a very ethnic German neighborhood called Yorkville on the far upper-eastside of Manhattan. Lou Gehrig grew up in Yorkville. WWII probably did a lot to end German ethnicness and make Germans just brace being American.

    So6: I like the joke theory.

    E3: I find this story less than convincing as well. There is still a sense that someone universities are more prestigious and exclusive than others in Europe. OxBrdige and University College, London are much more prestigious than the modern red-brick universities. I also remember seeing something about how it was not too uncommon for someone to stay in university in Germany until they were in their 30s because of the low cost and switching from practice field to practice field. There are free-standing law schools in the UK that are pitched at English majors who decided later that they wanted the more solid career choice of being a lawyer.

    E6: PhoneyDiploma! Now that is some truth in advertising right there. I love this one actually. Degree Mills seem much more shady. Here is a company that is openly and unrepentantly being a co-conspirator in fraud. I really dislike scammers and fraudsters like Multi-Tier Marketing Schemes and Degree Mills but there are also a lot of lazy people out there who want to cheat. I would love a massive sociological, psychological, and cognitive science of fraudsters and grifters. Ranging from the business owners to people who purchase papers on line or degrees.

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    • Nothing you say in response to e3 actually seems to address the points that e3 made. Lee said he was unconvinced by e3 and them repeated many of the same arguments as e3.

      This is kind of confusing.

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    • US5: The process started in World War I, which made German identity suspect. In the aftermath of the war, states with large German populations outlawed teaching children foreign languages or in private. The target was German and German Protestant and Catholic schools. Many German-Americans still insisted on maintaining a separate German identity. It was World War II and the Nazis that really undermined German identity.

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  6. I don’t know how true it is, but a friend who traveled to Germany for the World Cup a few years back returned telling tales of how that was the first time that many Germans felt comfortable engaging in any form of explicit patriotism… because of how that went last time. Folks told him that prior to the Cup, many Germans wouldn’t fly the national flag because it had become ingrained in the culture.

    And yet we have folks still wanting to fly various Confederate Flag. Sigh…

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  7. US4 makes no real argument at all. First she points to a coincidence in dates, and at the main one she mentions, 1965, the oldest Boomer was all of 19. Then she hand-waves about how boomers went to college and want white-collar jobs, not farm labor. She’s blaming boomers, but she really means wealth.

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  8. So3: good for Pratchett’s daughter. Roger Zelazny was adamant that no one else write Amber stories, but his heirs wanted the money. As Neil Gaiman wrote:

    Well, I remember Roger talking to me and Steve Brust. We’d just suggested that if he did an anthology of other-people-write-Amber-stories that we’d be up for it (understatement) and he puffed on his pipe, and said — extremely firmly — that he didn’t want anyone else to write Amber stories but him. I don’t believe he ever changed his mind on that. (When Roger knew he was dying, though, he did nothing to rewrite his will, which means that his literary executor is a family member from whom he was somewhat estranged — not someone who would have kept Roger’s wishes paramount. Which is a pity.) Would I love to write an Amber story? God, yes. Would Steve Brust? Absolutely. Will we? Nope because Roger told us he explicitly didn’t want it to happen.

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  9. So1: The Federalist asks: “Is Self-Censorship Really Freedom?”

    My answer is that the Federalist is a disgusting rag that would like to to round up everyone that’s either to the left of Hitler or darker-skinned than George Hamilton and put us all in concentration camps, and it would be a better world if every copy of it was burned and its printing presses blown up.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but self-censorship is slavery. (You know, serious slavery like the ACA, not slavery like the thing a small number of Confederates did that was going to go away on its own anyway and really wasn’t as important as tariffs.)

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    • Which bothers me not in the least. There’s not much question that affirmative action admits some putatively qualified students at the expense of other qualified students. Getting the court to rule on it shouldn’t be a matter of finding the perfect displaced would-be student, whichever way they rule. (I’m pretty ambivalent on affirmative action and was actually in favor of it until a few years ago.) Either it’s okay to use race as a criterion or not. Let’s find out.

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        • Mark Thompson has previously said that the court generally gives wide latitude on discrimination cases so as to avoid every case coming down to whether or not they would have gotten the job (or gotten in to school) without the discriminatory policy.

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          • The government did with recent home-mortgage redlining practices.

            The interesting to me about this case (and it should be noted that this is the same woman with the previous AA case) is that the actual discriminatory policy that might have kept her out (she is not a top student) might have been the admittance of the top 10% of graduating class without consideration to merit (and race) of students from more competitive schools; a policy which highly benefits students from lower-quality schools, and so presumably includes an advantage to minorities with crappy schools.

            ETA: I don’t think, in her case, the potential racial discrimination against white students here would have benefitted her; but it seems more in keeping with the argument she made since there were better-qualified minority students who didn’t get in, too; she seemed rather middle-of-the-pack for kids who applied.

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            • Yeah, practically speaking, Top Ten likely did her more harm than affirmative action might have. But Top Ten is reasonably bulletproof from a Constitutional perspective (and indeed, was cited as an alternative to AA in one of the recent SCOTUS decisions).

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          • Does UT grant favoritism? Or consider context? Those are not the same thing.

            I agree that systems of AA that award race points are deeply flawed. But saying, “We’re looking at you as more than numbers on a page and research shows that diverse groups yield better educational outcomes and ergo your providing diversity is a benefit,” is something else entirely.

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            • Those are among the things that need to be settled. Which is it? Which is okay? Are either?

              My own sense is that considering race is okay if you can demonstrate a truly wholistic approach to admissions, but not if you’re superficially wading through tens of thousands of applications. So the answer may be different for UT Law School and UT undergrad. But that’s my sense, and I doubt the courts will see it that way, whichever way they rule.

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            • UT has a somewhat complex system. The top ten percent rule has not really increased diversity, and the slots reserved for in-state students who weren’t in the top 10% are extremely competitive. If they went on academics alone, UT would be remarkably homogeneous on multiple demographic dimensions. So, they set up a system that awards points for the sorts of things that will exclude people in an entirely grade and test score based system. So it’s not just race, it’s also family, location, life experiences, etc.

              I see nothing wrong with this, of course, except perhaps that it doesn’t go far enough, but I’m on record (repeatedly) stating that I do not think individual criteria are sufficient to address systematic and persistent disparities.

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              • I agree that a holistic approach, looking at things including but not limited to race, is ideal. In part because you can’t evaluate candidates in a vacuum. It’s hard to scale though. I’ve participated in admissions committees and you’d be shocked to learn what gets considered (both officially and unofficially).

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  10. Re: Sc6:

    Doctors focus on individuals, whereas evolution is relevant for populations of organisms. I can see how someone who cultures bacteria might have a hard time getting through the day without considering evolutionary theory, but a practical-minded surgeon would not have any issues. There are also ways to reject evolution while still being somewhat scientifically minded, and the charity aspect of the profession does attract a lot of religious folks.

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    • From the article: “Most physicians are not scientists. This is not a knock, but they’re more akin to engineers.” Some years back while I was getting my MPP, in addition to being the only non-traditional student, I was the only science and engineering type in a class of 20. The question came up regularly, both in class and in casual discussion. It was hard to get the point across to people with no STEM background that science and engineering is a vast collection of disciplines and for most of them, there’s zero professional penalty for not believing in evolution.

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      • Admittedly, part of the reason that I posted that particularly link – and why I flagged it in the first place – is related to how tired I am of the suggestion that creationists cannot have scientific skill, dating back to that Texas Tech professor way back in 2003.

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      • Agreed. An engineer need only have a bare understanding of the scientific method & how it applies to their field. More advanced work can lead to expanded understanding, but even then it does not qualify one to evaluate or understand work done outside the field.

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      • Yeah, I work with a pretty decent system engineer who is a YEC.

        Darn good at his job. Don’t get him started on hyperbaric cancer treatments, though. (“We used to live hundreds of years because the pressure was 35PSI! Now the pressure is 25PSI and everybody’s getting cancer! Why are we having leap seconds now?”)

        And as a crazy person who is crazy in different ways, I really have no ground to stand on to make fun of him.

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          • That is a thing. Before the Flood, we had a much more highly pressurized world, you see. That’s how dinosaurs lived long enough to get that big. After the “water above” fell to below, the pressure was taken off.

            Now we die much sooner.

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                • There is a the possibility that worldwide flooding could increase ocean salinity. Which gives me an idea:

                  You should write a piece for the Creation Science Journal arguing that the reduced ocean salinity after the flood wiped out the ichthyosaurs. As proof, you would point to chemistry, recordings made in the Indian Ocean during monsoon season, and the Book of Numbers.

                  I would respond by furiously denouncing you in an editorial for the Journal of Intelligent Design saying that the Indian Ocean recordings were made during an especially strong el nino affect that year and therefore biased and that salinity measurements made at the mouth of the Rhone in years of comparably low snowmelt were superior indications of what ocean salinity would have been after the Flood, plus the Book of Leviticus, therefore the ichthyosaurs must have done something to cause God to smite them, such as sodomy.

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        • And as a crazy person who is crazy in different ways, I really have no ground to stand on to make fun of him.

          Not make fun of, but hold him to the same standards that you do for your own crazy thing(s). That’s said as someone with their own lunatic-fringe thing, and I try to hold myself to a tough standard.

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    • My concern when I hear about doctors not believing in evolution isn’t really a fear of their scientific competence as such. It’s more about what that might signify in terms of the care they’re able to offer me as a gay man. If a couple of sentences in a holy book is enough to cause someone to dismiss the foundations of the science upon which their discipline is based, then what’s to stop a different couple of sentences from causing them to dismiss me and my health needs? And how much harder is that question to answer when it regards someone whose queerness is a lot more transgressive than mine is?

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    • I believe that “crayon* scientists” acknowledge microevolution, only denying abiogenesis and speciation.

      They’re not stupid, just ideologically precommitted. As such, they find ways to incorporate reproducible phenomena into their worldview.

      *Swypo for “creation,” but I’ll leave it.

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        • Huh? “Evolution’ as a scientific concept is comprised of many, many testable hypotheses collected in many interrelated testable models, organized to explain much of the biological world at some level of abstraction. It is easily one of the most tested general concepts in the history of science. I have no idea how anyone could think it is unfalsifiable, even at its highest levels of abstraction (e.g., types of selection, speciation, descent, etc.).

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          • In fact, more modern creationists will argue that on some level evolutionary theory has been falsified mathematically (Dembski), empirically (Behe), even logically or conceptually (Fodor, Nagel).

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          • Give me an example of one. I’ll play devil’s advocate.

            Also, while I’m unfamiliar what the contortions that must be undergone to “mathematically falsify evolutionary theory” (in its entirety presumably), I have heard my fair share of creationists claim that they “believe in” natural selection or adaptation, but not evolution, whatever that means…

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            • Demnski’s specified complexity and Behe’s irreducible complexity are what I had in mind with those two names. You can learn all about both at the Discovery Institute site, or head over to Dembski’s site, Uncommon Descent, neither of which do I feel compelled to link.

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              • Question: Nagel’s argument isn’t that naturalistic evolution is or has been falsified, it’s that it isn’t falsifiable, yes? I might be remembering his argument incorrectly, but doesn’t it rest on the idea that a naturalistic account excludes a priori (heh! there it is again!) the possibility of a supernatural causality?

                I think the proper response is that naturalism doesn’t rule out the supernatural a priori, but rather that there’s no (zero) empirical evidence which would support including suprenatural causes (cuz if there were empirical evidence of those types of properties they’d be subsumed into a naturalistic account.) Something like that, anyway, yes?

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                • He goes further than that, and makes the case for a teleological approach to nature. It’s not simply that methodological materialism is indistinguishable from philosophical materialism, which is the general “evolution precludes God” argument that Nagel seems to agree with, but also that it is wrong in is fundamental assumptions about nature, particularly the assumption that it is aimless.

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              • I take it back. I will not play devil’s advocate. Not if it involves reading anything at the Discovery Institute website.

                It seems as well that Stillwater has taken us down an interesting back alley.

                I haven’t read Nagel. I do believe the idea that “really complex” falsifies the idea of a purposeless cosmos is in fact very fishing conceited.

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                • Dembski has two concepts: specificity, which is just the length of the description of a concept (the shorter, the more specified) and complexity, which is just how likely a pattern is to occur by chance. He combines the two and argues that when a pattern is both sufficiently specified and sufficiently complex, it can’t be produced by evolutionary mechanisms alone.

                  Behe, similarly, argues that certain structures are irreducibly complex. That is, their constituents, by themselves, or in combination at lower levels of complexity, would not be fitness enhancing, and therefore the structures could not have been produced thorough selection mechanisms alone, but must have come about in their full complexity all at once. Since it is extremely unlikely that this happened by chance, it gets you teleology, and probably a designer.

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                  • Slartibartfast claims a galactic civilization could grow from a single worm in the span of a mere two million years. That seems more reasonable, although if Dembski uses numbers in his argument it must be true.

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                        • If I remember correctly, the initial buzz around Dembski, much of it no doubt self-created, talked of him being a Newton, Einstein, or Darwin of our day. That it subsequently turned out he got it all wrong should not be considered contrary evidence for these comparisons.

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                          • I just read his Wikipedia page, and I must admit, I’m pretty impressed by the man. I wonder what are the chances of getting him to guest post here? Maybe we could call Barrett Brown out of retirement to do battle with him.

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                                  • I won’t pretend to know all the details, but if I understand the case correctly, “posting a bunch of people’s credit cards” is not completely an accurate description of what he did. He posted a link in a private chatroom that led to where stolen credit card identifying information could be found.

                                    Which is troubling, since he didn’t steal the info, he didn’t possess the info, and AFAIK there’s no evidence that he was sharing the link with the intent to facilitate a crime.

                                    http://gawker.com/5966757/former-anonymous-spokesman-barrett-brown-indicted-for-sharing-a-link-to-stolen-credit-card-information

                                    The “threatening a federal agent” thing is dead to rights, though I consider that possibly slightly-mitigated by the fact that he was reputedly withdrawing from narcotics at the time, and if his side of the story is to be believed, he was in the process of being essentially entrapped and railroaded on trumped-up charges (see above) by the Fed. Govt. So he was presumably under a bit of stress, and I am not sure how credibly the threat that he made should have been taken.

                                    I’m cynical enough to suspect that he is basically correct, and the Fed. Government was looking to make an example of somebody for the Anonymous/Stratfor hack (which he has never been directly linked to), and he was the highest-profile guy they could get. The threat he made gave them the ability to round up to an even ton the pile of bricks already coming down on his head.

                                    I’m not trying to excuse bad behavior, and I don’t know the guy, but that’s my understanding of the situation.

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                  • I’m a little bit behind on the cutting edge of Intelligent Design research, but last I checked, nobody had ever calculated, measured, or otherwise quantified the amount of ‘specified complexity’ in anything. That includes not just living organisms but plain strings of numbers and written text.

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                    • Last I checked, IC remained “It’s IC until someone finds a pathway, then it isn’t”.

                      Like Behe used to use the blood clotting cascade as an example of complexity and claimed it could never evolve stepwise. Someone showed a potential path (you only needed one to show it wasn’t irreducibly complex) and Behe smoothly switched to a new example.

                      In any case, it’s mostly ignoring large swatches of evolutionary concepts —- like repurposing or scaffolding (I can’t recall the real terms. Repurposing is where you have a thing that does a thing, but now it’s done better by something else, so it can end up doing something else entirely and scaffolding is where A->B and then B->C and then A isn’t needed so you have B->C and A has gone away. In each case, you’re missing bits to the story).

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                        • I’m not sure it has a real name, if it does I’ve forgotten it.. I just recall the process because when I read about it, the author was describing it like erecting a scaffold to build something — then removing the scaffold later. (or alternatively, anchoring it to the building and removing lower levels as needed since you only need the bit you’re working on.)

                          The scaffold was a necessary, required bit to build it — but once you had something built, the scaffold was superfluous and quickly removed leaving little trace it was ever there..

                          Evolution isn’t directed like that, but formerly critical bits and pieces can become supplanted or rendered unnecessary and then disappear or are retasked.

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  11. Sc5: Who is Mr Duarte and why is his assessment of the Cook study credible? (the better question is what the 97% number was actually trying to measure.)

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  12. So6: I’m betting the Knights vs. Snails is some sort of sex metaphor, and this is just the medieval equivalent of a crude drawing.

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  13. How ’bout that Greece thing, huh?

    The referendum was what to do with the whole “holding a wolf by the ears” thing.

    You’ve got two choices: keep holding them or let go.

    The problem with “keep holding them” is that you have to have that referendum again in a relatively short period of time.

    I think Greece’s best shot is to hope that it was not, in fact, a wolf whose ears were being held.

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    • High on my list of “international crises with nobody to root for.”

      Greece seems like a cautionary tale for the idea of EU or Eurozone membership providing a carrot to undertake difficult reforms at home: democracies won’t necessarily grin and bear it.

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      • I was just tweeting about watching a bug caught in a spider web*, and realizing that between the bug and the spider, I had no one to root for. The bugs are really super annoying, and I have a mild but vague arachnophobia.

        So yeah, I feel ya.

        * – This is why everyone should be on twitter and follow me. So they can read me muse about spiders and bugs in a way that sounds like a clever and deep metaphor, but is really me watching a spider and a bug while I puff on my ecigarette.

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      • Yeah…all the players are guilty. My boss’s family are greek and some still live there. They wanted, and had, a super generous social safety net but without having two sort of important things. A strong economy and collecting taxes. It’s hard not to see the greeks as very much at fault. But lordy all the people that lent them money knew, or should have, that they weren’t a good investment. And goldman sachs are evil.

        It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Germans have been harsh, but at least they aren’t invading anybody.

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          • That is what my boss said and what i remember from what i’ve read. There are a million loop holes so few people pay much. Also low level bribery is common in government and business according to my boss. I’d love to know if they could pay for themselves if they actually paid their taxes. Of course if they had to pay their taxes they might not want all they get.

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          • We went to Greece back in 2011. They were in the process of cracking down on rampant tax evasion… The whole “cash discount” route. One time, I asked how much something cost and the cashier rung me up instead. I didn’t want the item but she went nuts because she had created a sales record but wouldn’t have the necessary taxes collected to support it. Asking for a cash discount — at least as a tourist — would get you turned away as they’d assume you were undercover. But that was in Athens. On Santorini, it was looser. I’d venture to guess that the further “out” you got, the easier it was to avoid taxes. And probably easier so for locals as they’d know who was cool and who might be a narc. Couple that with a very leisurely view of work and intense government services and there ya go!

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      • Also, when the folks who loan you the money on the condition that you enact severe austerity measures later admit that with the austerity measures they fucked up and fucked you over, you probably wouldn’t feel all that eager to continue to play their game either.

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        • That is the greek dilemma. Austerity is a disaster for them. But they don’t have much choice. However i’ve read that with all their cuts they don’t have a budget deficit w/o servicing their debt. They don’t seem to have a road to pay their debt and still have a non-disaster economy for decades.

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          • Somebody (Alex Massie?) made a really interesting observation during the Scottish referendum. Which was that it Scotland left the UK, but joined the EU, dealing with Merkel instead of Cameron may not exactly be an improvement with regard to many of the complaints they had with Cameron.

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  14. In response to Francis’s comment:

    Greece votes no. Life in Europe is about to get a lot more interesting. Is the EU only a political body? What happens when [Alabama, whose transfer payments {Social Security, highway funds} were denominated as loans] tells the rest of the world that they’re never getting paid back?

    In the US, we call that the price of union. In Europe, now what?

    It goes to show that the EU is not a USE. Nor can it be, really. And given the givens, nor should it be. Which is to say, from my perspective this is indicative that the EU is too unified (Greece being too tied to the monetary preferences and needs of Germany, etc) rather than it being insufficiently so.

    Other than the EU angle, is there much difference between Greece and Argentina? (I don’t quite have the world history chops to know.)

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    • Mixing strong well balanced economies with much weaker and more vulnerable economies was surely not a good idea. Some sort of New Hanseatic League of the powerful Euro economies would work well for them. But the needs and interests of the weaker countries are just to different.

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      • And add to that, in Europe’s case specifically, the cultures are insufficiently unified (or unifiable) to really make a go at being a USE. I mean, we talk about Red America and Blue America here, or the South vs the Northeast, or (shout-out to ) the East and the West, but that’s not really anything compared to Greece vs France or Britain vs Hungary.

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      • That makes sense. As discussed with Greg above, Greek’s lack of tax collection enforcement capabilities seriously hinders its ability to pay debt.

        I was thinking more specifically of the default. Spurred by my curiosity, I actually looked up the Argentinian default and discovered that they did resume payment a few years after they defaulted. I haven’t had time to read too much about it, though. (Yet.)

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    • Basically Europe (and the German block) has been called to the carpet. At this point the German block has to decide on one of two options; let Greece go and try and contain the debt default contagion elsewhere and face the possible dissolution of their captive export market (in which case the EU may be in for some contraction) or let their austerity politics go and offer Greece a better deal in which case the EU will begin inching closer to something slightly more like the American model.

      And yeah, there’s no good guy. The Greeks (both government and populace) behaved like children gorging on candy but the Germans gave the Greeks the bag of candy in the first place and also have struck to their austerity demands long after the Greeks slashed their spending to the quick.

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      • The lesson for the Germans in the future is a variant on “DO NOT GIVE OUT LOANS LIKE THIS” and we’re in the process of seeing what the lesson for the Greeks will be.

        And what the lesson for Italy will be.

        And what the lesson for Spain will be.

        And what the lesson for France will be.

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        • It’s not quite so simply Jay. Because if the lesson was DO NOT GIVE OUT LOANS LIKE THIS. Then the lesson would also be DO NOT LUMP YOUR ECONOMY IN WITH WEAKER ONES TO KEEP YOUR CURRENCY WEAKER AND ENSURE FULL EMPLOYMENT. or DO NOT BECOME AN EXPORT POWERHOUSE.
          The two kind of run together. Germany benefitted enormously from the EU/Euro, and that’s why they’re so uninterested in letting it dissolute. If it was just a question of profligate Greeks having conned innocent German lenders the Greeks would have been kicked to the curb years ago. The benefits flow both ways.

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      • At this point the German block has to decide on one of two options; let Greece go and try and contain the debt default contagion elsewhere and face the possible dissolution of their captive export market (in which case the EU may be in for some contraction) or let their austerity politics go and offer Greece a better deal in which case the EU will begin inching closer to something slightly more like the American model.

        Thomas Picketty points out that Germany did not pay its debts.

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      • “I, too would be glad to hear that a woman was murdered in the city that was home to my political enemies.”

        So do you not know what “sanctuary city” means, or why it would be relevant to this story?

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      • is being quite telling. San Francisco is one of the few cities in the United States that is decent enough to think that mentally ill and potentially deranged people deserve homes to and should not be kicked out and shunned. One of the few commits a horrible crime and Notme’s response is a snide and schadenfreude filled laugh at San Francisco’s kindness and decency.

        What a revealing moment for American conservatism.

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          • “this is one undocumented immigrant committing a crime. ”

            He’s not just an undocumented immigrant, he’s an undocumented immigrant who’s been convicted of felony crimes multiple times, who’s been deported multiple times. He had a gun illegally, and he was shooting at protected animals in a public place.

            And, as has already been pointed out, the reason he was in San Francisco was that they specifically said “we won’t deport or punish you for being here illegally”. San Francisco’s government specifically asked for people like him to go there.

            Do you honestly believe that there’s nothing going on here but paroxysms of primal-scream racism? That anyone who says “hey, y’know, maybe this Sanctuary City thing is going to cause some problems” is just a nationalist bigot?

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            • “Do you honestly believe that there’s nothing going on here but paroxysms of primal-scream racism? That anyone who says “hey, y’know, maybe this Sanctuary City thing is going to cause some problems” is just a nationalist bigot?”

              Let me get back to you on this when there’s conversation about gun regulations after the umpteenth mass shooting of the year.

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            • He had a gun illegally, and he was shooting at protected animals in a public place.

              And if there’s one thing that makes conservatives angry, it’s violations of the Endangered Species Act.

              Also, he didn’t have a license for the gu….

              Never mind.

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        • Saul

          Im glad to hear about san fran’s efforts with the homeless and mentally ill. This story is about a illegal alien with a gun that was drawn there bc of their sanctuary stance and that killed someone. You can try and obfuscate all you want. They wanted a santuary and they got it.

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      • I can imagine the outcry if, say, there were a shooting at a Daughters of the Confederacy event, and anyone even suggested that it was anything but an inexplicable tragedy.

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  15. To be fair to NotMe, I have it on pretty good authority that any time some sort of “tragedy” happens, the most appropriate thing to do is to pounce on the policy within nearest proximity to it. When the other people object, you can then yell at them for not caring about the dead. If they point out that revising the policy might not have even prevented this tragedy, roll your eyes at how they just don’t get it that it isn’t necessarily about this one event that makes it so we absolutely have to talk about this policy right now but that this policy contributes to “tragedies” like this one far too often. And if they try to balance the policy within proximity to the tragedy against other priorities and values, explicitly or implicitly accuse them of being indifferent to the death.

    Also, put “tragedy” in quotes because this was not just the deliberate deed of some bad person, but the product of the deliberate policies your political opponents have been pursuing for years.

    This, I have come to learn, is the appropriate way to talk about “tragedy.”

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