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Linky Friday #135: Katy & Lamar


homer simpson power plant photo

Image by calamity_sal

[R1] Shell is pulling up its stakes and leaving the Alaskan Arctic.

[R2] Thanks to plenty of win and subsidies, Texas wind power producers were paying people to use their electricity.

[R3] R-Street criticizes a plan to charge solar customers for energy they’re not using. I could actually imagine it being a defensible policy, but the forces behind the policy certainly raise questions.

[R4] Will Boisvert makes the case for California keeping its last nuclear plant.

[R5] Black solar cells are pretty cool, for both aesthetic and technical reasons, and they’re advancing.

[R6] If oil extraction is causing earthquakes in Oklahoma, it may not be an issue of fracking as much as salt water disposal.


[N1] A goat at a Tim Horton’s in Canada was arrested by the RCMP, who I am sure were very apologetic to the goat about the inconvenience.

[N2] Kerry Howley explains the self-absorption of our response to the death of Cecil.

[N3] Dallas is struggling with a serious stray dog problem.

[N4] Wolf-Coyote Hybrids are migrating to cities.

[N5] Tanzania has lost 2/3 of its elephant population in the last four years.


Image by Lunchbox LP

Image by Lunchbox LP

[S1] Social media and modern sensibilities: Unfriending is workplace bullying and sending too many follow requests harassment.

[S2] Katy Perry is a pro.

[S3] Pumpkin spice is very problematic.

[S4] Zach Barnett argues that college football really needs to do something about the length of its games. It seems to me that keeping the clock running on first downs up to the last two minutes of each half would be a good place to start.

[S5] Credit where due: Alan Sepinwall admits when he is wrong, and a long time back he was very wrong about the prospects of a new show called CSI.

[S6] Sometimes, TV shows have to either temporarily replace cast members or cute things up.


taxes photo

Image by soukup

[G1] In a piece about Iran, Spengler argues that rule-of-the-minority is superior to democracy. I was actually pondering a minoritarian form of government for an alien race for a story. The basic idea is simple: The minority’s innate vulnerability leaves them in a position where they have to heed the majority, in a way that’s not true for the inverse.

[G2] Adam Ozimek pushes back against the Georgist tax proposals, most recently advocated by Salon and Peter Orzsag and Noah Smith.

[G3] Cato takes a look at the pros and cons of guaranteed national income.

[G4] Heather Gerken and James Dawson explain the virtues of spillover state laws, which is when a law in one state has an effect on another. They approve! As a would-be federalist, so do I.

United Kingdom:

[UK1] In the UK, Mohammed Umar Farooq read a book about terrorism, which was declared a red flag that he might be a terrorist.

[UK2] The Telegraphy denounces the EU as an oligarchy and says it’s time for the UK to leave.

[UK3] No Offence causes offense.

[UK4] Explained from the inside, how Jeremy Corbyn rocked the Labour Party.

United States:

Image by mamamusings

Image by mamamusings

[US1] Jack Hitt is not a fan of Paul Theroux’s new book on the South.

[US2] Utah is apparently adding a pretty significant “Doctor tax.”

[US3] Jews have gradually shifted in the public mind to being more white than not, but Gil Steinlauf wants that play called back.

[US4] The Economist reports that the “model minorities” may be losing patience.

[US5] Russell Saunders dissects Lamar Odom’s cocktail.

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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382 thoughts on “Linky Friday #135: Katy & Lamar

  1. S3: Europeans were using cinnamon and other “people of color” spices thousands of years before Sri Lanka and any where else became a colony. The spice trade existed during the the Roman Empire. European exploration was mainly inspired out of a desire to make spices cheaper by breaking the Venetian monopoly on the spice trade because all Asian exports used to enter Europe through Venice.

    The line of thought expressed in this article is inherently problematic for a wide variety of reasons. It is ahistorical and segregationist because it says that these things are for “people of color” and those things are for “white people”. It is the equivalent of a white supremacist ranting about an African-American vinter or brewer because wine and beer are supposed to be drinks reserved for “whites”.

    One of the more vile philosophical trends of the mid-20th century was to take the patriotic rebellions against European imperial rule and to turn them into a pernicious cosmology called Anti-Colonialism. Anti-Colonialism has made no positive contributions to humans. It encourages endless and useless outrage and guilt. The new nations that did in the best were the one’s that eacapoed it’s grasp.


    • Yeah, that post is the sort of thing that, when people on the right point and laugh, it is hard to argue, except on the grounds that lots of people on the left quietly roll their eyes and move on with their day.

      Is pumpkin spice really considered a white thing? That one is new to me. I (a) am white, and (b) don’t like pumpkin spice, so make of this what you will.

      But back to silly leftie ranting, the bit about vanilla is classic. There is no mystery about why “vanilla” is used to mean generic and bland, and it isn’t due to a conspiracy by whitey to keep the colored man down. It is because among the various standard flavors of ice cream, vanilla is ubiquitous and the most neutral. Come on: there are endless real examples of whitey conspiring to keep persons of color down. The metaphorical use of ‘vanilla,’ however, is not one of them, and trying to make it into one just looks ridiculous and weakens the genuine examples.


        • The joke, which Lee is apparently not in on (though it would have helped if he’d read the piece), is that pumpkin spice is the ultimate white thing, and that it’s taking over. That is, everything has to have a pumpkin spice version every fall, because white people have to ruin everything. It’s mostly a joke, though some people have come to take it seriously.

          The point of the article, then, is that it shouldn’t just be a white thing, people of color should be able to enjoy it too. It’s basically making the opposite point that Lee thinks it is. Granted, the article is poorly written and a little overwrought, but Lee’s response misses its target completely.


          • I read it the way Lee, Will and Richard read it. If a significant proportion (majority?) of the people reading it read something the “wrong” way, it is the fault of the writer, not the readers.


            • I honestly couldn’t tell whether it was a silly argument or an exercise is how easy it is to make a familiar and silly argument about anything (like the old skit of Popeye as a symbol of the slave trade and pool as one of white supremacy), but I thought it interesting either way.


          • The joke wasn’t a very funny one and satirists should be well aware of Poe’s Law these days. If this piece was intended humorously, it was badly written. I’ve seen plenty of similar rants written with complete earnestness. I’m really baffled on why people think that endless outrage and ethnic grievances are compatible with multiculturalism.


            • The joke isn’t hers, it’s a social media joke that’s now at least a couple years old. I imagine that if you’re not aware of the joke, the article will be confusing and you might misinterpret it, but this isn’t the fault of the author (as Mo suggests), it’s just that you’re old and not on Twitter.


            • Or, you know, it’s just not for you

              The pumpkin spice article is a sensible and kinda hilarious addition to a conversation that’s already been going on for a while, and one you’re clearly not following.

              Decrying it as bad satire, or political correctness gone mad, or whatever else people on this blog are saying, is kinda dumb–and in a few cases, seems like people taking a chance to bash at their ideological opponents.


          • I don’t think the joke is painfully obvious but there is enough there to get it. This part of her bio is probably the clearest indication: “She is trying to avoid talking so much about mangoes in her writing because of the way they have been oversexualized and exoticized by the West, but still consumes them at exorbitant rates.”


              • If you don’t think eating mangos are orgasmic, you are probably the wrong sort of white person. The kind of white person who is really really white but not really REALLY really white. If you catch my drift.


        • People seem to love and hate Pumpkin Spice. But it is part and parcel with the “basic” slang that was debated last fall. Basic as far as I can tell means bland and unrepentantly feminine.

          Uggs, leggings, and pumpkin spice lattes are basic.


      • The Jewish equivalent of S3 would be an Ashkenazi Jew getting angry about the goyim appropriating bagels and making them their own by putting non-kosher ingredients on them like ham and cheese together or making sweet bagels like the blueberry cinnamon bagels.

        As I pointed out in Chris’ point, you can’t really have it both ways. You can’t have multiculturalism and plural societies and different groups in a state of constant outrage at any perceived slight or appropriation. A multicultural society is going to involve mixing and some or even a lot of this mixing can come across as crass commercial appropriation of minority culture by the majority culture if you want to read it that way. Its one of the sacrifices of multiculturalism though, no group can completely own it’s own culture, especially if parts are considered cool or desirable by the other cultures they are interacting with. What you can do is to make sure that the mixing is done with respect and in a non-racist manner.


        • I actually agree with the idea that racism is something that the powerful group does to the group lacking power. The proper term for bigotry and hatred from a non-powerful group is xenophobia. The difference between racism and xenophobia is that while both are about fear and hatred of others, racism requires an active ability to persecute the other while xenophobia does not.


          • No,”oppression” is what the powerful group does to the less-powerful one. Racism may be a motivator, but is not limited to either group. Racism is simply the imputation of essential (and usually, negative) characteristics to a given race. It is a subtype of xenophobia.


            • Sure, but the punching up/down question has nothing to do with whether something is racism or not.

              If a black man thinks that all white people are X – where X = [pretty much anything other than “white”] – that is still ‘racism’, even if his punches in that direction can do relatively little harm, given overall societal power dynamics.

              All else equal, a big brother punching a little sister has worse effects than a little sister punching a big brother; but it doesn’t change the fact that all else equal, they shouldn’t be punching each other.


              • But I’m not sure the sibling-punching analogy hold. Power is inherent to racism. It’d be like saying the brother punching his sister is equivalent to the sister throwing a punch in her brother’s direction but never connecting.


                • No, power is not inherent to racism. They are separate concepts. Power can enable racism.

                  Racists can be in power, or they can be out of power.

                  The actions that racists take as a result of their racism, will be racist actions.

                  Racists in power, can do more harm than the ones out of power.

                  But they can ALL be racist. This idea that without power, one cannot be racist, is neatly belied by the powerless racist no-hopers in the KKK, etc.


                  • At some point we tumble down a semantic rabbit hole, but I suppose I (in response to various readings on the topic) see a difference between prejudiced thought (which can be held by anyone) and racist action (which requires a certain power dynamic in order to institute).

                    On a micro level, anyone can engage in racist action. If a Black guy puts a gun to my head and says, “Die, honky,” and pulls the trigger, he is in a remarkably powerful position and acts upon it.

                    On a macro level, when we’re looking at institutional, systemic, and structural racism, this really only flows in one direction and really only can flow in one direction as our society is currently constituted.

                    I, personally, tend to focus on the macro level and only really get into the micro stuff to the extent that it is a manifestation of and/or perpetuates the macro stuff.

                    So, yes, all folks are capable of racist acts. But, currently, only white folks are capable of institutionalized, structural, and system racism. And the latter is where I tend to focus.


                    • Though I will add one thing more, since it is sort of my meta-framework of this comment, and my earlier observation about the use of “folks”:

                      In my experience, certain internet discussions seem to go off the rails very, very easily – and race-related stuff is one of the big ones – even amongst people who I don’t think of as being all that far apart in their fundamentals.

                      So whenever these hot-button topics come up, I personally try to use words and concepts that are as definitionally-precise, and as value-neutral, as I possibly can.

                      Unfortunately, that attempt may itself come across as a bias masquerading as neutrality, or as my attempting to control the definitions and terms of the debate.

                      But if ever there was a topic that I feel calls for careful precision, judicious word choice, and commonly-agreed-upon definitions, this is one of them.


              • Replace “racism” with “stereotyping.” This both generalizes the discussion and lowers its temperature.

                We stereotype all the time. We decry this, but it is unavoidable, since we can never know everything about a person. Look at two guys: one is wearing the jersey of the local football team while the other is wearing a tweed jacket with leather elbow patches. Maybe the guy in the tweed jacket is on his way to the game while the guy in the jersey is on his way to teach a seminar on Proust. But probably not.

                The problem arises when we are so committed to our stereotypes that we ignore contrary evidence. A related problem is when we regard our stereotypes as action items for our own behavior. This, in turn, matters much more when directed downward than upward.

                If I believed that all rich people should be shot, come the revolution, then I would be a bigot. Barring the unlikely event that the revolution actually comes, however, this doesn’t much matter to anyone other then the people I bore talking about it. Rich people, after all, have the resources to take care of themselves. They don’t need my approbation. If, however, I believed that all poor people are lazy and we should let them starve, this would be a much more serious problem. I am a middle class white guy who votes. This opinion would be much more directly harmful to the targets of my distain.

                So while you are right in principle that racism is racism, it matters a lot more when directed downward.


                • I agree that the impact of racism can be greater or lesser depending on directionality; but I don’t like defining or excusing racism out of existence, simply because the racist in question currently happens to be powerless.

                  If there’s a little old black lady in your neighborhood who has lived a life oppressed by whites; but boy do NOT get her started on the Jews who are running (ruining) the world, and everytime she walks by the Korean grocer, she flips him off just because he’s Korean – that little old lady is racist as hell, and the stuff she is doing is racism – even if on a macro level her racism (currently) isn’t harming anybody but herself.


  2. G1: I remember some well-known examples of minority rule in the last century. If I recall, it was rather ugly, and it took decades of internal and external political pressure, violence, and war to get rid of it.

    I’m sure we’d do it better, though. Or whoever we support would.


    • I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it. You mean this?:

      “But saying no to capitalism doesn’t have to mean erasing how our bodies, tastes, and cultures have always underpinned the system.”

      If that’s the sentence you refer to, I’m not sure she means the word metonymically, since the article specifically talks about slavery.


      • She doesn’t mean it metonymically. The modifier “our” is a pretty good clue to this. I can’t think of examples of the use of “bodies” metonymically,” but I suspect Brandon’s reading them very differently than I.


        • Well, as long as we are talking about word choices that we notice, here’s one for me.

          You ever notice how the word “folks” is hardly ever used in real life, unless it’s an internet conversation with racial aspects, at which point “white people” or “black people” become “white folks” or “black folks”? Why is that?

          It gets on my nerves a little, because it seems like a forced, affected…er, folksiness. A way to indicate that the speaker is about to impart to readers some gentle, righteous wisdom (but they still love Those People, whichever Folks they are!)

          Like, “Gather around, young’uns, the Old Tyme Country Lemonade Guy is gonna tell everyone a story, about the time that white folks and black folks learned they are all…just…folks”.

          (Also, entirely unrelatedly, some years ago the phrase “I get it” became one that clanged on my ears in TV dramas. Pay attention, and you’ll start to see to your groaning irritation how often TV writers use that phrase).


        • Hmmm. It’s a little strange (pursuant to my point about “folks” above, it seems like “people” would have worked just as well?) but in context here, it seems like the writer is talking about misreading body language (=”furtive movements”), so “bodies” still seems apt enough.

          Probably, given the topic, using “bodies” is also a rhetorical tic, to suggest to the reader that too often these police misreadings can end up with a “body” (on a slab).


          • Talk of “black bodies” in this context almost always means physical violence of some sort, including both attacking people physically and restricting their bodily movement. The use of “of” rather than, say, “against” in that quote is just the mark of a bad writer. This talk of “bodies” is pretty old, predating the Civil Rights movement even, though it became particularly popular in the 60s and 70s, and has seen a sort of resurgence of popularity as kids these days take courses on critical race theory and such.

            Also, you both need to read more Foucault.


            • Aggression is a mental state or quality. A person can be aggressive. A body can’t. And sure, I guess if you really stretch it, you can say it’s literal rather than metonymic. But this is definitely a shibboleth of the identity-politics left. Linguotypical bodies just say “people.”


              • Aggression is both a mental state and a description of behavior. And it’s not at all metonymic: it is not using bodies to refer to anything other than bodies. It is specifically a contrast with minds. Your distaste for it is likely ideological rather than linguistic, which is cool I guess. Lots of shit libertarians say drives me insane.


                • I’m with BB on this one. As it stands, that sentence is literally incomprehensible. That you can decode isn’t necessarily to your credit, Chris. :)

                  If a sentence takes that much work to understand imagine how much effort an intelligent person has put in to actually writing it?


                  • The only reason it’s incomprehensible is the “of,” which is, again, just poor writing. I mean, the “of” doesn’t even work there if it’s meant metonymically. “The aggression of black people” would imply aggression by black people, not directed at black people. If you replace the “of” with a more appropriate preposition, it should make more sense. If not, you too need to read more Foucault ;).


                    • If not, you too need to read more Foucault ;).

                      Which sorta makes my point. :)

                      As a little exercise, can you give me a translation of that sentence into English? Seems to me there’s a reason that sentence isn’t written in normal English, and due to that reason the writer can’t even express herself coherently in her own chosen technical language, which admittedly looks like a little like English …


                      • OK, I’ve just read it in context, and here’s the paragraph is almost unreadable, it’s so poorly written, but I’ll translate it (I was wrong, the “of” is not at issue here, as she means something different):

                        The interpretation of Alexander’s actions as assaultive by her prosecutor, judge, and jury is directly linked to her race. Reading blackness as threatening is a cornerstone of American white supremacy, and one that forms a basis for the mass incarceration of black men and, increasingly, black women. The perceived aggression [entirely as a result of people seeing dark-skinned bodies] is not exclusive to women. An obvious example of the intentional misreading of black men’s bodies is the outrageous (and unconstitutional) number of Stop and Frisks carried out by the NYPD due to “furtive movements.”(Stop and Frisk takes this phenomenon to a higher level by criminalizing the intentionally misunderstood behavior of, say, walking.)

                        In this case, I see why Brandon sees it as metonymic, but it’s not meant to be, it is again meant to highlight the fact that people are reacting to the body, or entirely to physical properties of black people. It’s another way of saying that they are being treated as objects, with no individuality; to those reacting to them, they are merely bodies with dark skin. The role of the “black body,” both in the enforcement of supremacy and producing reactions based on it is a big part of the discussion of race in both academia and outside of it.


                        • this example may help, and perhaps Brandon as well (emphasis mine):

                          and I call New York home even when not living there; and feel myself in all places, from New York City to rural Switzerland, the custodian of a black body, and have to find the language for all of what that means to me and to the people who look at me.

                          This is the way in which “black body(ies)” is used. It is akin to the existentialists talking about one’s facticity. Specifically, it is the medium through which people impose their racism on black people, as it is what they react to and act upon.


                          • Chris,

                            I read these comments a while ago and have been trying to narrow down my response to something intelligible. Here goes: my point above isn’t that there is no theoretical framework (including an accepted semantics for the words used) under which that paper makes sense, it’s that a) the content could have been conveyed using normal English words (tho I suspect that had she done so the failings of the piece woulda been even more obvious), and b) it appears to me that the writer’s incoherence results from trying to use an elaborate explanatory framework to account for stuff which that theory simply cannot account for, and rather than recognize those limits she garbled her way thru trying to make it fit.

                            That a person sufficiently trained can decode it is another matter. :)


                            • I’m not sure the theory can’t account for it. I’m not sure that writer understands the theory well enough, is smart enough to apply it, or can write well enough to do so intelligibly. If any of those things is the case, or if all of them are, you’re going to get something as poorly written as that article.

                              However, if I want to seek out poorly written articles to undermine language and viewpoints I don’t like, I won’t have much difficulty, no matter language and viewpoint we’re talking about.


                                • A good example might be the discussion we’re having below.

                                  Tamir Rice was a 12-year old child, but what the cop who shot him saw was a black body big enough to, at speed, be mistaken for that of a man’s (because the size of black bodies often exaggerated in our minds), which they then treated as aggressive, violent, and dangerous, despite its “custodian” being only a 12-year old child. This is precisely what people mean when they refer to “black bodies” as distinct, conceptually, from “black people.”


                                    • I’m not sure it could be. I could say “black bodies,” or I could write all the comments I’ve just written explaining the relationship between the body and the person in a society and culture of racism. Now, if I were intending to write (and convince) a larger audience, it might be necessary to do that. If I were just writing to an audience with assumed common ground in this particular domain (you know, sub-blog instead of the front page), I could just say “black bodies” and in doing so cause the people who share that common ground to bring all that info to table while they’re reading me.


                                      • Oh, there’s a way to say it all without using those coded words. I submit that the relevant distinctions in play are between a person, a person’s behavior and physical properties, and the way those behaviors and properties are perceived by others. From there you can express the exact same account (but it wouldn’t be a theoretical apparatus at that point!). And so on for completely constructed words like “custodian”.

                                        Adding: doing this would take all the “intellectualism” outa the pursuit, so it’d never fly. Plus, it’d be a shared language, which is also a negative.


            • I’m probably not going to read more Foucault. (Or I guess technically any Foucault. But anyway.)

              The “bodies” usage shows up in trans discourse a lot also. And while I understand how people mean to use it, I find it hella awkward. In fact, I think it actually distracts from the meaning as much as it contributes. This is all to say, it is meant to feel abnormal, to nudge the reader into a space where they can see how alienating it is to be black (or trans or whatever). This work up to a point. But these days it feels overdone, and it really just says to me, “This author is trying to sound like all those other authors.” I don’t think that is the effect they want.

              Anyway, these days it seems to mostly function as a stylistic quirk.


              • Not only is it alienating from the non-black world, but racism alienates black people from their own bodies, as the loci of so much of racist action and reaction. That, at least, is one of the intended messages in using “black bodies.”


            • OK, this cracked me up, but now I’m thinking maybe it really is a good thing you are not on Twitter ;).

              To expand, there are a lot of people who are offended by any non-serious treatment of things like #blacklivesmatter. You know, the sort of people who write articles about how a joke mocking white people (for their taste in latte flavors) excludes them as non-white people (because they also like those flavor of lattes). I’m just imagining the 12 minutes of outrage over that hashtag, followed by 8 minutes of outrage at the outrage, at which point something else will piss everyone off.


              • Racial-related humor is a minefield, and Twitter seems sort of expressly-designed to shear away context (in this case, the fact that I was riffing off Mike’s Einstein reference).

                So, great for the one-liner, but…

                (Relatedly, last week when we had the article about the deputy who refused to shoot the skunk, I narrowly restrained myself from making a joke about how we should be relieved to find a police officer who wouldn’t reflexively unload on anything black.

                At the end of the day, a joke that indirectly analogized black people to animals – especially stinky ones – just seemed too risky. But it felt like a pretty good joke!)


  3. R4: Ah, Diablo Canyon! That brings back memories. It was the next big issue when I was in college. They would bus protesters up to the site. I was extremely skeptical. When I talked with my dreadfully earnest fellow students, it was clear that the vast majority hadn’t the faintest clue about nuclear power. A lot seemed to have some vague confusion between it and nuclear bombs. The sense I got was that what with the Vietnam War being over, people were looking for something to protest about, and didn’t particularly care what. it was much like the right wing outrage machine or more recent years. About that time the anti-apartheid movement became a thing a drew off a long of attention. This was a net benefit, as the anti-apartheid movement was clearly the side of the angels.

    That being said, there were, and are, a lot of problems with nuclear power plants that have never been fully addressed. Waste disposal is the obvious example. Decontamination of retired plants is another. I tentatively believe that new plants don’t make sense today. Better sources are realistically in the pipeline. But shutting down a functioning plant is another matter, with a lot of the costs (both monetary and environmental) already being sunk.


    • Yeah, my parents were among that lot, and apparently dragged my tiny baby self out to Avila Beach to protest it.

      I would be very upset if it closed, given that I generally agree with the article that Nuclear power is a crucial component of any meaningful attempt to escape fossil fuel dependence–but also because it’s a major source of good-paying high tech jobs in my community.


      • One of the points I think the article gets wrong — or at least is unclear about — is that the alternative to Diablo Canyon is unlikely to be built in California at all. The model is much more likely to be the Intermountain Power Plant outside Delta, Utah. That 1.9 GW coal-fired plant is largely owned by cities in Southern California, operated by LADWP, and 75% of its output goes straight to the LA area by HVDC. LA is, IIRC, footing the bill to convert the plant to natural gas. Phil Anschutz is leading an effort to build a Wyoming wind farm complex that may eventually total 3.0 GW [1] and the HVDC transmission line to deliver the power to the center of the San Diego/Las Vegas/Phoenix triangle. A company whose name escapes me just now spent some serious money looking for a site where they could build a new nuke plant to deliver power to California. They wanted to use evaporative cooling and the closest place they could find water that they could get the rights to was in eastern Utah. That plan is on indefinite hold pending the availability of enough HVDC capacity to deliver the power.

        One of the long-recognized keys to making commercial-scale renewable power work is geographic diversity. That takes a serious long-distance transmission network. I think there’s a significant opportunity over the next 25 years for California to become the hub for such a network in the Western Interconnect. This is related to R2; negative power prices are generally a symptom of too little transmission capacity.

        [1] The usual knock on wind power is the amount of time that it’s not generating because the wind isn’t blowing. Anschutz’s complex will sit in the outflow from the South Pass break in the Rockies. It’s a freak of geography, and instead of the usual 25-30% availability for onshore wind, runs a bit over 60%.


    • Waste disposal, by and large, is not a technical issue but a political issue. With reprocessing you can simply turn the vast lions share of “waste” into new fuel. Current rules forbid this in the US which is rather nonsensical. The small minority portion of unreusable waste is very dense and very compact; it would not be enormously difficult to store and it’s anyone’s guess when future technology would develop more uses for it.

      But I’m right with you on the environmentalist know-nothing fear mongering of nuclear power. It’s as infuriating (and as difficult to combat) as vaccine denial. It’s very hard to take environmentalists seriously when they hold that line on nuclear power.


      • I’m not fearful of nuclear power. I’m fearful of nuclear power, as regulated by our current broken regulatory system and ran by various American corporations not exactly known for looking far in the future.

        Plus, as pointed out above, for new nuke plants, they’re incredibly expensive to get online, it’s incredibly slow to get one online (even if you “cut the red tape”), and such. Maybe building new nuke plants made since in 1975, even though I’d point out that even that hasn’t gone exactly smoothly.


        • I always liked the proposal that we regulate nuclear power plants Navy style. Make the people with the decision making authority live in the same building with no easy escape route if something goes wrong. It seems like corner cutting and lax procedural discipline wouldn’t be as much of a worry then.


          • There’s no way you can run the civilIan industry like the Navy Nuke system. The Navy Nuke system costs (at least) an order of magnitude more per Megawatt, and is designed deliberately to be labor intensive in both operations and maintenence.

            Edit – and the Chernobyl, TMI, and Fukushima people that mattered were right there on site too.


              • I claim no expertise, but my understanding of TMI is that it was a case where the people on the scene fucked up pretty much everything they could, yet the actual outcome was pretty minimal. The moral can be taken either way: the people were complete fuck ups, but the fail-safe systems did indeed turn out to be idiot proof.

                I am reluctant to take any moral from Chernobyl beyond don’t rely on Soviet engineering, which I already knew.

                Fukushima is an interesting case. It was subjected to conditions beyond those it was designed for. What take away from this? Over-design, I suppose. And then over-design a little bit more. At least when it comes to nuclear plants.


                • True, though it bears noting that some scientists are beginning to observe that evacuating the Fukishima impact zone may have killed more people than the radiation release that happened could have been expected to kill.

                  And in both these cases we’re talking about decades old reactors.


                • Fukushima is an interesting case. It was subjected to conditions beyond those it was designed for.

                  Fukushima is an idiotic case that anyone with any slight amount of engineering (Someone like *me*, who is not even an engineer) could have figured out how to design better.

                  Seriously…the design of the place required *electrical power* operating water pumps to stave off nuclear disaster.

                  I mean, forget the entire problem of leaving all that material in a form that needs to be cooled *anyway*, instead of mixing it into sand or something. That’s what they should have actually done, but forget that. And forget moving it off-site enough where a problem with the plant won’t cause a problem with that.

                  Engineers, you have a radioactive *heat source* and an infinite supply of ocean.

                  If you can’t figure out a way to build some sort of *self-cooling system* from piping the radioactive water and cooling it using the ocean water, and then dumping that back in the water, *without* any sort of electricity, you have officially failed engineering forever. You’re not at *steam engine* technology yet. Actual engineers *do not need electricity* for cooling water via other water! You run the cold water in, it heats up, moves upward, and then goes back out at the top! Whee! (And also, in a system like this, you don’t care that it’s *salt* water because you’re not running it through pumps.)

                  But no one even bothered to try to design something like that. Herp derp, we’ll just use electricity from the power plant to run the coolant pumps. We’ve got no real backup if the plant stops producing power, or, even worse, if the actual pumps get flooded. Hell, we’re not even going to have some way to attach *hoses* to the system from the outside.


                  • DavidTC: I mean, forget the entire problem of leaving all that material in a form that needs to be cooled *anyway*,

                    That’s how nuclear power works. Fission products and their daughters have various decay times (some on the order of minutes, some days, some years), and that decay inevitably creates heat. You can’t avoid it.

                    The *most* important thing for nuclear fuel and particularly spent nuclear fuel is fuel integrity. Keeping fission products behind a ‘wall’ of some kind is the first and primary line of defense on preventing release of those products and their zoomies into the environment. In most designs, everything stays right where it is, until the fissile material is depleted and/or fission poison products build up to the extent that criticality can’t be achieved anymore.

                    Dumping salt water on a radioactive pile (and then dumping back into the environment) in anything other than a last ditch effort to avoid a worse catastrophe is not a well considered plan. (but it is what I think they did in the end) It is actually the failsafe for US Navy Nukes, because you can tow them out to the middle of the ocean and sink them in deep water and let dilution be the solution for your pollution.

                    DavidTC: Herp derp, we’ll just use electricity from the power plant to run the coolant pumps.

                    Fukishima did have backup electric backup power, in the form of diesel generators. The design flaw was that the plant was exposed to a 1 in a who knows how many chance occurrence that an earthquake would knock out the main power and then the tsunami flooding would knock out the back up generators.


                    • That’s how nuclear power works. Fission products and their daughters have various decay times (some on the order of minutes, some days, some years), and that decay inevitably creates heat. You can’t avoid it.

                      But you *can* mix the radioactive elements into, for example, glass balls, diluting it enough that the balls’ radioactivity generates only enough heat to keep them about 10 degrees hotter than everything else, or whatever. Stick those in a barrel with sand, and, hey, now you’ve got a somewhat-warm radioactive barrel that your only problem is ‘Where are you going to put this barrel for thousands of years?’, which is a problem, but at least it’s not a ‘Will this cause a nuclear meltdown?’ problem.

                      The problem is when you keep the material so concentrated that they generate enough heat that they *melt through things* without external cooling. Aka, a nuclear meltdown.

                      And, yes, this solution only applies to the ‘spent fuel’ storage, not the actual reactors…the currently-used fuel obviously couldn’t have been diluted during the shutdown. But, uh, Fukushima *did* have a spent-fuel storage meltdown!

                      Dumping salt water on a radioactive pile (and then dumping back into the environment) in anything other than a last ditch effort to avoid a worse catastrophe is not a well considered plan.

                      I didn’t say to do that.

                      Cooling systems in nuclear plants are generally two parts, as far as I know. There’s the inside system that has the water that actually touches the radioactive material, which never leaves the system at all, pumping in a big circle.

                      And there’s *another* cooling system, the outside system, that exists to remove heat from *that* system, usually via pipes through that system, or maybe that system has pipes going through it. That system’s water does not touch the first system.

                      And there is absolutely no reason you can’t design *both* those systems to move water *using the heat introduced into them* instead of pumps, which is literally steam-engine level technology. You just make the part of the system that gains the heat go *up*, so the water keeps circulating.

                      And no reason you can’t have the outside system (at least) set up to use salt water if it’s on an ocean.


                    • Fukishima did have backup electric backup power, in the form of diesel generators. The design flaw was that the plant was exposed to a 1 in a who knows how many chance occurrence that an earthquake would knock out the main power and then the tsunami flooding would knock out the back up generators.

                      Calling those ‘backup’ generators is mostly a lie. Backup generators are ones that you use during an emergency.

                      But part of the *operating procedure* of a nuclear plant is to shut down the reactors when there are any possible problems…at which point the system relied on those ‘backup’ generators.

                      Anything you need as part of normal operations is not really a ‘backup’. The battery in my UPS is a backup system. The battery in my laptop is not.

                      But, anyway, no, as I said, the design flaw was building a system, *any* system, where the simple lack of electrical power, even with people trying to stop it, could cause a nuclear meltdown.

                      Nuclear power plants need to fail *safe*.


              • I lump them together because Cherynobl, Fukishima, and Three Mile Island are the top three worst civilian nuclear power plant (reactor) accidents in history, in that order. (there have been other nuclear accidents worse than TMI, but they were either at military facilities or at nuclear processing facilities. (e.g.)


        • To the first the American and Canadian civilian nuclear systems have worked pretty well over all though lord(lady) knows they could always be improved. There’s no flies on the French either.

          To your second point, as far as I’ve seen the expense of nuclear plants is only one part regulation, one part that so few have been built and one part active malevolent interference run by anti-nuclear environmentalists. Also any appeal by environmentalists to shell out a couple trillion to convert the entire grid to renewable power because this is important that is then followed up by protests about the cost of nuclear power is… mmm … shall we say disingenuous seeming.

          I mean nukes have their risks, they have their costs (and they ain’t cheap no doubt about it) and they have their weaknesses but environmentalism has generally approached global warming by saying “hey all that stuff we said you should do before we discovered global warming? Well you should do that more now. Never mind the facts.” and that badly undercuts their message.


      • Waste disposal, by and large, is not a technical issue but a political issue.

        Yep. And the anti-nuke people won 30 years ago. No reprocessing. Geologic disposal considered so toxic that when the list of possible sites was reduced to just Yucca Mountain, the chair of the Congressional committee that did the deed told reporters publicly “We screwed Nevada.” TTBOMK, none of DOE’s original ~30 candidate sites was eliminated based on science/engineering — they were all removed by Congress, usually as part of buying someone’s support for a bill on an unrelated topic.


        • Well yes but if AGW is sooo important then maybe the issue should be revisited. Otherwise it’s probably going to be our current pace of incremental tightening, mild subsidies and hoping that renewable power prices keep falling. That works for me but AGW activists say more needs to be done immediately.


          • I make the argument that the states of the Western Interconnect are in the process of deciding (intentionally or not) to bet the ranch on renewables. There are a number of nuts-and-bolts studies suggesting this is possible, although not cheap. The same is not true for the Eastern Interconnect — different resources, different distribution of load locations, different problem scale.


      • There was an op-ed in the Times this week that said that recycling and composting were not good for the environment and argued that we should be burning our trash and converting it into energy like Europe and Japan but those trash burners are not very popular in the United States.


        • The trash burners would be more popular in the US if we did district heating and cooling on the scale that Europe and Japan do. The trash burners aren’t very efficient (in the thermal sense), so even with a negative cost for the fuel they aren’t competitive with a state-of-the-art coal burner or combined-cycle NG plant. If you’ve got an opportunity to use the “waste” heat from power generation to produce low-temp steam to heat nearby buildings, the economics look a whole lot better. The Hennepin facility in Minneapolis is a case in point. Sited on cheap land (former industrial zone), the waste heat is used for (among other things) radiant heaters and early-season soil heating at Target Field.


    • How long Diablo Canyon stays in service probably depends on whose cost estimates are correct for the changes necessary to meet the new thermal discharge standards. If Bechtel’s $6.5-11.5B is right, no way. If Tetra Tech’s $1.5-4.5B, then maybe it’s okay. There’s also the geology problem, the nominal reason that PG&E asked the NRC to put the license renewal process on hold.

      If you ask me to bet, I’d bet that PG&E eventually (next two years) announces the plants will be retired in 2024. I think they’ll decide that they can sign contracts for equivalent generating capacity outside of the state, with the necessary transmission capacity, for less than what the Diablo Canyon retrofits are going to cost.


  4. [S1] The “unfriending is bullying” this is just crappy journalism and clickbait garbage. The unfriending was only part of the reason for the decision. There had been a history of rude treatment:

    Legal experts said the case did not mean that unfriending a colleague on Facebook would automatically constitute bullying.

    “The Fair Work Commission didn’t find that unfriending someone on Facebook constitutes workplace bullying,” Josh Bornstein, a lawyer at the firm Maurice Blackburn, told ABC News.

    “What the Fair Work Commission did find is that a pattern of unreasonable behaviour, hostile behaviour, belittling behaviour over about a two-year period, which featured a range of different behaviours including berating, excluding and so on, constituted a workplace bullying.”


  5. [More S1] Yikes! From the other article:

    One of Lau’s cases involved a male student who received a deferred suspension, was banned from his graduation and branded a sex offender on his transcript for stealing a kiss and exchanging inappropriate text messages that were later deemed harassment.


    I mean, seriously! That is the author’s example of “overly broad” sexual assault guidelines? Really?

    Dear fellow humans, if you try to kiss me without my consent, it is sexual assault. I will report you. I will work to see that you are prosecuted.

    I dislike the nature of sex offender registries in general, for all crimes. But stealing a fucking kiss is absolutely and unambiguously sexual assault.

    I suppose I could read the rest of the article, but what will I learn other than that right-wing turd people think it is okay to randomly kiss me.

    Oh, and if someone keeps pestering me on social media, even when I’ve blown them off like a zillion times, and they just keep doing it because they lack the social intelligence of a slug, then yeah, at some point it becomes harassment.

    Grow the fuck up.


    • Regarding the Australia story, I thought that there were elements of harassment there but the unfriending didn’t come close to qualifying (even as a supplement to establishing a pattern).

      Regarding Kau, “stealing a kiss” covers a broad area from definite assault to misreading signals to the first step on a very long path to marriage. A lot depends on the particulars.


      • A lot of the debate and confusion over what is and what is not sexual assault comes that outside some really obvious situations like catcalling, butt grabbing, and the r-word, one’s person sexual assault is another person’s flirting. People are trying to find bright line rules for a situation where very few bright lines exist because of individual taste and situational ethics. Many people find constant direct asking for permission to do various things like “may I guess you” romantic and others find them to be serious mood killers because these sorts of things should be spontaneous and unspoken.

        If I was with a woman who liked constant consent getting than I would honor her desires but to me constant consent getting is not sexy or rather doesn’t make me feel hot. It makes me feel like an undesirable person that has to fight to get every little thing.


        • — The problem is, the examples that critics produce are (so far as I’ve seen) never simple case of someone politely asking someone else out and then getting rejected.

          We should talk what actually happens. Repeated verbal “come ons” are harassment. They remain harassment if you do it by text message. Tracking me down on social media, instead of just saying “hi”, is creepy, but it is not harassment. Ignoring my refusal to talk to you, sending me multiple friend requests, like three or more, when I’ve refused them, trying to find ways around my “blocks,” if I’ve blocked you, being such a turd-monkey that I have to block you instead of just respecting my stated desire to be left alone, on and on — this stuff is harassment.

          The article says this:

          Another case saw a male student suspended for a year because he sent multiple Instagram follow requests to a female student and once looked at her on campus.

          Right. If she’s blocking your follows, then leave her the fuck alone. She doesn’t want you! Go away.

          But my point is, this author does not give us enough information to critically evaluate these situations. It could be the case that, if we had the data, we’d agree with the conclusion. The fact that the data is absent, plus the fact she thinks “stolen kisses” are not assault, makes me rather not trust her judgment.

          What was that “stolen kiss” actually like?


        • LeeEsq:
          People are trying to find bright line rules for a situation where very few bright lines exist because of individual taste and situational ethics. Many people find constant direct asking for permission to do various things like “may I guess you” romantic and others find them to be serious mood killers because these sorts of things should be spontaneous and unspoken.

          No, people are carefully setting out bright line rules in a situation that has hithertofore been kept devoid of them, a situation that previously persisted because the lack of bright line rules denied sexual agency to women.

          Look, I get that Verbal consent seems weird. The folks trying to set out the rules are doing so because it makes verbal consent seem less weird. There’s a reason that this is something going on at schools rather than retirement homes: people in school are still developing their culture. We, for the most part a bunch of middle aged or nearly middle aged men, look at the rules being imposed on the next generation and say “I could never live with that”. Well, we aren’t, by and large, being asked to. These rules are being set up in opt-in spaces, spaces that have the ability to communicate standards and demand they be adhered to.


          • Everything you right is true and part of what I’d address in my hypothetical “‘Rape Culture’ In PreK” piece. My general rule with the children is that they may never touch anyone’s body without first asking. However, this rule is almost impossible to enforce. In part because enforcing it would undermine so much good that the absence of that rule allows for. So it is generally invoked after a complaint or protest is raised. However, this would seem to re-enforce the status quo and demand that someone be victimized. That is problematic. Yet I still bristle at the idea of a playground full of four-year-olds stopping every two seconds to make sure whatever they are about to do is okay. Eash.

            Perhaps the pendulum needs to shift that far in that direction before we can self-correct back towards the middle. That is often how these things go. Are there other ways consent can be given/acquired?

            Along these same lines, on several occassions I have said to children, “You are telling Susie to stop, but you are laughing and smiling when you do so and that is confusing her.” Which on the one hand seems totally reasonable and on the other hand HOLY SHIT IMAGINE SAYING THAT TO A WOMAN WHO WAS BEING SEXUAL HARASSED/ASSAULTED! And, yes, yes children and adults are different and groping and tag are different but it sets a tone and culture. So… I don’t know what the answer is. But know that at least some of us in schools are thinking about this even if we haven’t quite figured it out.


            • — There is probably some pendulum swinging going on here, insofar as that is a pretty common part of social change. But still, I think much of the reporting we see is pretty bad, and sexual harassment remains a big problem, even with these ongoing efforts.

              The point is, women aren’t putting up with this bullshit anymore.

              We’re supposed to have sympathy for the poor hapless men who cannot help themselves, or cannot possibly understand the rules. But the question is, are these men being reasonable? We hear many anecdotes of these things gone too far, but then when we look close, the people who got punished did things like unwanted, non-consensual kissing!

              Look, I know I’m hitting this point pretty hard, but the author of that article actually expected us to read that and say, “Oh that doesn’t sound so bad. Grabbing some woman and planting a kiss is just how these things work.”

              Which, no, that is not how things work.

              We hear much from lonely men who cannot figure out how to attract women, as if being more pushy and bro-ish would help them. It’s ridiculous.

              “All I did was send her repeated friend requests on social media that she kept rejecting!”

              Look d00d, learn to take rejection with grace. This seems a small thing to you, but we’ve made rules about this stuff for a reason, because small things repeated and normalized create a really gross environment. It is not okay. We worked to pass rules against it and now those rules are there. Learn them.

              And what really happened in that case? Do you think we’re hearing the whole story?

              Hint: anything on this subject that begins, “All they did was…” probably is not going to tell you all that they did, nor the context in which they did it.

              In any case, pendulums swing and politics is hard and managing human beings harder, but people still get away with sexual harassment and assault with alarming frequency. It is unlikely that we’ll ever have a system with zero false positives and zero false negatives, but the crocodile tears of “things gone too far” very often are manifest bullshit, whereas woman after woman after woman can tell you about those who harassed them, assaulted them, and sometimes even raped them with impunity.

              My best friend was sexually assaulted last week. It was an unwanted kiss.


      • — The point is, in the Australia case, you were told that it was about the unfriending, because that is the part the journalist chose to focus on, not because that was the meat of the case. In other words, you were misled. What seems to have happened was this: the unfriending was the last straw in a long pattern of abuse. That is different from “oh they unfriended me and that alone justifies official action.”

        The article tries to sell you the latter based on the truth of the former. It is bad journalism.

        In the second case, the kiss was enough for its target to lodge a complaint. Furthermore, the complaint was found to be sufficient grounds by school officials. Now, it is possible that the officials showed poor judgment, but the author does not make that argument. Instead, she assumes her readership will find it obvious that a “stolen kiss” is not assault.

        That tells you a lot about her, her assumptions, and what her audience wants.


        • I was under the impression that the unfriending was a log on the fire (a supplement to establish a pattern) and even in that context it doesn’t really work for me at all.

          The kissing thing is why it’s important to have good processes of determining guilt do that I can have some degree of confidence that bring found guilty likely meant that the context was not favorable to the accused. We don’t really seem to have that.


          • The kissing thing is why it’s important to have good processes of determining guilt do that I can have some degree of confidence that bring found guilty likely meant that the context was not favorable to the accused. We don’t really seem to have that.

            Perhaps, but if the author wants to make that case, she did not make it. From the report she linked to:

            …campus definitions of sexual assault are so broad they include everything from a kiss, rubbing up against someone, touching of private parts, grabbing, to forcible rape – all regarded under the same label, ‘sexual misconduct.'”

            It is certainly true that labels such as “sexual assault” and “sexual misconduct” include a variety of behaviors that fall short of rape. But of course, that is why we have those broader categorical terms, for when we want to talk about a variety of sexual assaults that perhaps fall short of rape.

            It is true that advocates sometimes seem to deliberately conflate the meanings, and that is worth talking about. However, there is no evidence that the man who “stole a kiss” was accused of rape. In fact, the article states that he received a “deferred suspension, was banned from his graduation and branded a sex offender on his transcript.”

            Well, his transcript is not the same as a finding in court, so I doubt it will land him on the offender registry. On the other hand, a “stolen kiss” is sexual assault, and it is a crime, and thus I don’t see what the author’s point is. Yes, he got smacked hard for this.


            Well, unless the author wants to show that this particular case was a miscarriage of justice, that in fact most reasonable people would see that kiss and say, “Oh yeah, that’s totally fine.” But she didn’t do that. I wonder why.


        • In other words, you were misled. What seems to have happened was this: the unfriending was the last straw in a long pattern of abuse.

          I have no doubt that there’s more to the case than that, but I’m having trouble imagining any circumstances under which the unfriending would have any legal relevance at all.

          And speaking of crappy journalism, none of the links in that article actually give more information about the story. They just link to vaguely related stories, like a story about another Australian mother who had some Facebook drama.


          • Leaving legal aspects aside (and I am not on Facebook), I struggle to see how “unfriending”, as a nominal action of *disengagement*, should ever be considered “harassment” (which is a pattern of unwelcome *engagement*) at all.

            If someone was harassing me, I’d WANT to be “unfriended” from them, ASAP.


            • — Yeah I basically agree. It seems reasonable to say, “Look we just don’t get along, so let’s figure out how to work together effectively. But outside of work we should stay apart.”

              In fact, I said more or less that exact thing to a coworker once. He and I just could not get along, and it really wasn’t anyone’s fault. Actually, I basically think he’s a good guy. Just, he rubbed me the wrong way, and I rubbed him the wrong way. So yeah, after a while it got bad and I said that very thing.

              And it worked. He said, “Yeah, I get it.” After that we were able to interact professionally. In fact, I’ve given him a couple really nice job references. He was good.

              Like, acting like a grown up can be really useful in your professional life.

              We can’t know if either party tried that in this case. But in my experience, by the time someone takes official action, then clearly at least one of the parties is irrational and some official action is needed. So we might ask, did the officials in this case do a good job with the material they were given?

              I don’t know. The author of that article clearly had no interest giving me enough true information to decide.


      • It’s an example of his incompetence. We never should have drawn down so far in the first place that the Afghan gov’t would lose control of a major city like Kunduz to the Taliban.


        • The answer is always more troops for the grinder! Perpetual occupation? Blood and treasure flowing away like water!

          If only we throw enough soldiers and money at the problem, it will be solved through sheer force of arms!

          It worked for Vietnam, right? Gotta work here.


          • If we just keep n troops in ______ for x years, where n and x are finite but unbounded and always rising, we’ll be able to prevent all the bad stuff that putting troops in those countries for several years caused.


          • “Perpetual occupation?” If you are going to yammer at least try and make sense. No one except you is talking about occupation. I’m talking about helping an ally and our own national security interests. Do you want to see the Taliban back in control? Remember that isn’t good for the women or children that liberals care so much about.

            You trot out Vietnam as an example of something but I’m not sure what. If anything Vietnam shows us what happens when you fight a war with halfhearted intent and don’t support your ally after you pull all your troops out.


            • Not surprised you’re a Green Lantern type.

              You’re right, Notme. We could have won Vietnam with willpower and dedication.

              And that blue naked guy from Watchman. Just in case.


            • No one except you is talking about occupation. I’m talking about helping an ally and our own national security interests.

              The line between occupation and “security services” gets a little blurry when the country you’re helping out doesn’t have a stable government that most of the population is on board with. In any case, we’ve been fighting there for fourteen years. If there’s a good solution to putting an end to the problem, I’m sure the powers that be would love to hear it. They’ll probably even forgive you for keeping it to yourself for so long.

              If anything Vietnam shows us what happens when you fight a war with halfhearted intent and don’t support your ally after you pull all your troops out.

              If you call 58,000 dead and 300,000 wounded half-hearted, I’m not sure I want to see what you’re willing to pay in Afghanistan. But I think the Vietnam analogy is apt. We’re supporting a friendly government that doesn’t have the complete support of its people against an enemy that is not without popular local support on a battlefield that doesn’t play to our strengths. If a country was a stable democracy prior to falling into civil war and all we’re doing is trying to restore the order that the citizens crave against an unpopular rebellion, that’s one thing. If the country was just an unholy mess with a bunch of factions vying for power and we’re trying to invent a government from whole cloth that will both be popular enough to be stable and friendly to our interests, that’s another.

              I’d love it if history told us that we could go in and kill the bad guys and watch a healthy state flourish. If it was, I’d say that we should allocate 10% of the national budget to toppling evil governments and seeding democracy and freedom everywhere. But that’s not really how civil wars usually work, especially not when those civil wars topple governments that were barely holding together a bunch of separate regional or ethnic factions to begin with.


              • The line between occupation and “security services” gets a little blurry when the country you’re helping out doesn’t have a stable government that most of the population is on board with.

                Agreed. It would also be blurried if, for example, Afghanistan stationed a garrison of a few thousand soldiers in the US because we were allies in order to, say, as part of a troop exchange the goal of which is to protect us against domestic terrorists like KuKluxers or whatever. It wouldn’t be an occupation by any stretch. But I suspect a certain number of people would portray it as an occupation.


  6. N4: I’m going to show my scientific ignorance but I thought coyotes were basically the same thing as wolves just located in the Americas rather than Europe and Asia. Its basically the canine equivalent of Old World and New World monkeys. Same species just different continents.

    S6: This has been known forever.

    US3: This isn’t a uniquely American thing. During the 19th and early 20th century or even today, Jews in Europe were seen as an Oriental people in an Occidental land. In Muslim-majority areas, Jews were also seen as not quite being part of the seen. Ever since the raise of modern racial identity issues during the 18th century, Jews operated in an in-between space. We weren’t quite White but we weren’t people of color either. In South Africa, there was a lot of ambivalence towards Jewish immigration because even though the Afrikaners wanted to shore up white numbers, they were afraid that Jews would side with the Africans because of the Jewish experience of persecution. During the Apartheid years, Jewish owned businesses like super markets were some of the only places were something like mixed raced socializing occurred because Jewish business people simply refused to follow the law.

    G1: This sounds good on paper but we have plenty of examples of a minority ruled country or country subdivisions were the minority uses their control to make the majority work for them rather than obey their interests. The above mentioned South Africa during most of the 19th and 20th centuries, Southern states with Black majority populations from the Colonial period to the mid-20th century, European countries when the aristocracy held sway (a landed upper class minority exploiting everybody from peasants to merchants for their benefit), and more. Majority rule has it’s own problems but a generally better track record than minority rule.


  7. [US5] – To comment on the good doctor’s article, if I had to guess the herb that contributed to Lamar Odom’s condition, I’d say it was some form of yohimbe (bark, Yohimbine HCL, etc.). In large enough doses, it can cause all sorts of issues. Combine it with cocaine and intense physical activity (a VERY BAD IDEA while taking it), and there could be major if not fatal consequences.

    Yohimbe is found in a number of well-known over the counter weight loss supplements too. People that have adverse reactions to the weight loss supplements may have them more due to the yohimbe than due to the caffeine.

    It can cause jitters in very small quantities.


    • Reading his wiki page, I guess Odom is a bigger celebrity than I (a non-sports-guy) realized.

      Last night as I was flipping around channels, CNN basically had a vigil outside his hospital, and all I could think was “Geez, the guy overdosed in a brothel. That sucks, but it’s also kind of embarrassing, so maybe we could just leave him and his family in peace here?”


          • It’s the Kardashians world, we’re just living in it.

            Odom was a pretty good basketball player, with the potential to be very, very good — he was very nearly a star in Miami, and was a popular and successful player for the Lakers. Unfortunately, injuries, the lockout, a trade, and being on reality TV ended his career before it probably had to end, and he doesn’t seem to have been very good at coping with life without basketball, a not uncommon truth about people who have spent their lives since at least 8th grade doing very little but preparing for basketball life, as most top-level players have these days.


            • Reading his wiki page, seems he had a troubled family history, and has struggled with drugs in the past. So it may not be fair to blame reality TV or basketball (though the artificial pressures from those things may not have helped either).


              • Yeah, he did have some issues before, but that’s one of the ways in which basketball likely helped: it provides order, and a fairly large and motivated support system of teammates, coaches, staff, execs, etc., while also providing direction and motivation for him. He seemed to do pretty well personally, especially in LA, but the uncertainty of the lockout, particularly with his contract, the trade, and the pressures of reality TV all striking at the same time, seemed to put too much stress on him to continue the good habits he’d developed without the structure of basketball. And anyone could watch it happen, as it happened on TV.


            • Odom was a high school phenom in NYC. What LBJ eventually had on a national level, Odom had on a local level. Despite being a bit of a clown in some respects, he seems to have been well loved and respected every where he went. Kobe Bryant — not one to make friends or care about people — left a preseason game at halftime to visit his former teammate. The URI community — not one to necessarily venerate basketball players — seems similarly torn up, at least based on a friend’s Facebook page who is an alum.

              Odom was never quite what people thought he could be and because of a bit of an odd demeanor never really crossed over (until the Kardashians), but he was a pretty big deal in NBA circles and was well known by fans.


        • Exactly, if he wasn’t part of that freak show no one would care. Too bad the divorce was finished. All the ink wasted on him just goes to show what is wrong with this country when we have real issues.


      • I’m a non-sports guy and the only reason I hear about him at all (or see him on the covers of the gossip magazines I see walking through Penn Station) is because of his marriage to one of those Kardashian freakbags.


  8. G3: I am intrigued by the idea of guaranteed basic income but I am cynical about it happening for a variety of reasons.

    1. I think the idea is well-known in the wonky internet sphere especially among the left and libertarians but not much out of that. I have yet to see a non-wonk or political outsider talk about it. When my friends who pay less attention to politics talk about GBI, I will change this opinion.

    2. GBI goes against the American tradition of each person being their own free-holder and paying their own way. The biggest criticisms from the right (not libertarians but the GOP) is that unemployment and other forms of the safety net make people lazy and they don’t start looking for work until unemployment runs out. There is an idea on the American right that any work is better than being unemployed for a month or two and then starting your career. I’ve gone back and forth about this with people on the site before in other contexts like college tuition. My belief is that it is better for people to spend four years in college or so and then enter the job market at a higher level of income. Some here argued that it is better to have people spend ten years to graduate if it means that there is less of a welfare state to support lower tuition even if it means starting on a career path at 29 instead of 21 or 22. I firmly disagree.

    I imagine that the arguments against GBI would be more so because there probably would be people who were content to live on 30,000-40,000 a year and not work and this would cause all sorts of cultural and social resentment issues. Can you imagine the right-wing social cons being cool with people living on 30-40K from the government and trying to be left-wing, avant-garde performance artists? Or left-wing activists? Or even just trying for music stardom? A lot of complaints I hear on the right against arts spending and/or welfare spending is “not on my dime.” Why would people not say this for GBI?

    3. If too many people choose not to work, the whole economy can theoretically collapse?


    • 1: Well sure, but it’s an unusual circumstance and all the solutions to unusual social or economic changes usually start out fringe then move to the center.

      2: America won’t be the first to adopt it, most likely it’ll be done by other smaller liberal states which’ll give a good opportunity to see how it works.

      3: The entire GBI concept rests on an assumption that the automation/efficiency level of modern economies is such that there’re literally no jobs for a certain segment of society. If a GBI was instituted it seems to me that the economy would be unlikely to just *boom* collapse. What’d happen would be you’d get inflation. Prices would go up and desperate employers would raise wages to try and lure workers. As prices went up the purchasing power of a GBI would go down. As wages went up the appeal of working instead of just living on GBI for people would increase. People would start re-entering the workforce until it hit an equilibrium.


    • On 1, I agree with North. It’s a very small-governent idea (heck, Nixon almost passed it).

      On 2, that probably is a reason it will not happen. But that “American tradition” is little more than “keep the government’s hands off my medicare”-esque FYIGM. I don’t see the GOP clamoring to end farm subsidies, payments to the presently-elderly, or others who support them. End of the day I see an equally robust American tradition of preventing abject poverty amongst our citizens (starting with FDR, at least). And the surest way to keep someone from being poor is to pay them money.

      On 3, I very much doubt that $12k/year is going to make anyone go Galt who has reasonable alternatives.

      It seems clear to me that the way to do this would be to set a rate for adults, allow for kids to gain access upon some emancipation showing, and increase taxes on high earners by (at minimum) the amount of the increase. By Cato’s numbers, Adults-only is $2.7T and full removal of non-medical social safety net programs would be $2.5T ($2.2T if you don’t end mortgage interest). That’s a pretty darn small gap. And I have no opinion either way on whether to trust Cato’s numbers.


    • There was a media narrative Clinton was ‘losing’. (Because: “Clinton, only serious candidate besides Bernie, who clearly is there to push his agenda and not actually win” is boring news, especially compared to the TrumpTrain). So why should it surprise you that a total failure to implode changed one fictional media narrative with another one?

      In the end, it’s STILL “Clinton, only serious Democratic candidate because Bernie isn’t in it to win”. (Not that he’d turn it down, if he did). I mean, it’s the same thing that fuels the constant Biden speculation. Utter media boredom, especially now that Benghazi/Emailgate is clearly being shoved into the right-wing swamps because the excuses got too threadbare.

      I’m not exactly enamored by a Clinton presidency, but I’m not going to pretend Sanders is going to win. There will be some fun excitement for the first few primaries and then it’ll quickly turn into Clinton handily winning and life will go one. Short of self-immolation on her part, this was all decided a year ago when everyone else took one look at the race and decided to sit this one out.

      Not that I blame them. If they’re younger than Clinton, they can wait and not face that machine. If they’re her age — um, it’s Clinton. She almost beat Obama in 2008, and spent the intervening years burnishing her CV and fine-tuning her machine. How do they plan to compete with that?


        • The Raw Story article admits the less than scientific nature of on-line polls.

          That being said, there are signs of growing disconnect between the base and the elites. Not as much as in the Labour Party but I think a lot of people on the liberal side are also starting to feel that the media is part of the elite and too invested in too clever by half wonkery, their own economic interests, and not rocking the boat too much.

          There was a story this week about how high-deductible insurance schemes don’t actually lead to people shopping around for lower prices. They just lead to people seeing doctors and health care providers less. The shop around idea is the kind of wonkery that people are fed up with but the media and Vox types seem to be enamoured with and refuse to give up.


          • Fortunately there’s a system where the base demonstrates to the elites just how disconnected they are or not. It’s called a primary. First one happens in Iowa in 2016 followed by New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. I imagine we’ll know if the Berniacs are right or wrong by Nevada.


      • especially now that Benghazi/Emailgate is clearly being shoved into the right-wing swamps because the excuses got too threadbare.

        That EmailGhaziGate has turned into a GG of its own is really the best thing that coulda happened for Clinton. Like, best thing in an ideal sense, since she showed that she couldn’t deflect the heat rhetorically. Which will lead to all sorts of speculation…

        So I’ll predict the Next Scandal in Benghazi Hierarchy: “Clinton Operatives Pressured Podliska To Lie About Benghazi Committee’s Intent.”


    • Ugh….perceptions of who won debates is mostly personal projection. Sure if a candidate had a huge oops ( hi Rick from Tx) that is clear to everybody, but it is still mostly projection.


    • It’s an angels on the head of a pin question. You could maybe make some objective system and determine that Bernie did win on points but it doesn’t matter.

      Clinton needed to exceed expectations; she did. She’s reversed what was basically a manufactured negative narrative and that’s allowing the natural advantages of her candidacy (which are myriad and have been carefully engineered to be so) to lift her up.

      To win Clinton needed to not obviously perform badly in the debate. All she needed was a tie.

      To win Bernie needed a home run performance AND for Clinton to flail in the debate. He got neither. He may have done better than she did in the debate, that’s fine, that just means he gets to keep on losing at a very gradual rate.

      And I would note that Bernie himself does not seem like he truly is desperate to “Win” the nomination. If you redefine Bernie’s objectives as moving the conversation in the direction he desires without increasing the odds of a Republican victory then he’s very much achieving that goal. If winning the nomination was Bernie’s #1 priority he would have to go on the attack after Hillary. He’s not.


  9. Rice family wants a special prosecutor. Is this what happens when you don’t like the evidence?

    “We are concerned, we are upset, we are frustrated, we are angry, because we feel that justice is not in process and not in motion in this case,” Abady said. “For us it’s … totally worthless, unfounded conclusions, based on nothing but speculation, ignoring the facts.”



      • Sounds like the evidence is in question to me. It also seems like they, as in their lawyer, is confusing an ideal outcome (justice) with the finding of conclusions that they don’t like. They seem to want their own facts and conclusions.

        “We are concerned, we are upset, we are frustrated, we are angry, because we feel that justice is not in process and not in motion in this case,” Abady said. “For us it’s … totally worthless, unfounded conclusions, based on nothing but speculation, ignoring the facts.”


        • There is video of the incident isn’t there. The basic story is uncontested afaik. Rice was at a playground with a toy gun, cops rolled up and shot him.

          The conclusions from the report were that this was “reasonable”. Not necessarily good policing or that they couldn’t have done things to better w/o shooting the child, just that a reasonable office might have done the same thing. The crux of the matter is reasonable, which give immense leeway to cops for shooting people w/o repercussions.


    • Perhaps protocols that give police this much leeway are just bad laws, bad rules, and bad protocols. Why should anyone have that much leeway to use violence against children?


        • He didn’t have a gun and still little. Children are children and the police should learn to deesclate instead of shooting first you paranoid, fearful, authoritarian, sniveling, nut bar. You claim to be for gun rights but it is clear those gun-rights are only reversed for the “right” people in your eyes.


          • Saul, he did have a gun – a pellet gun, that was missing the colored plastic trim that would have clearly identified it as such.

            This gun is what prompted the 911 call.

            “There’s a guy in here with a pistol. It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody,” the witness told authorities, according to the 911 call released to the station. “It’s probably fake but, you know what? It’s scaring the s— out of everybody.”

            Police say that the “it’s probably fake” caveat was not passed on to the responding officer.

            Even had the caveat been passed on, the police position boils down to A.) They must treat a possible gun as a real one, and B.) A twelve-year-old is old enough to pull the trigger on a real gun – so if they reach for it, police may react as though a gun is being pulled.

            This was a tragedy, no doubt.

            But it’s also one that, to me, seems to have some characteristics that make me leery of Monday-morning quarterbacking it.


            • I know what monday morning QB’ing is supposed to mean but in this case it’s wrong. Cops and military always analyst their actions to determine what they did right and wrong. Well at least they should, the military does this well in general, cops meh. They should be going over everything to learn and get better. Use of deadly force should be held to a very high standard. Heck when i worked inpatient psych and we had to restrain someone we went over all our actions leading up to the incident and after to get better. That was psych types and nurses.

              The example often used regards open carry of guns, how would people respond and cops be treated if they shot every one of those people carrying rifles at the ready? That would fly but those guns could be leveled really quick and present an obvious danger.


              • Cops should absolutely MMQB it.

                I don’t know if any of us here are qualified to MMQB it; or more precisely, we of course CAN and WILL MMQB it – but the facts of the case are ambiguous enough that I don’t feel comfortable coming down hard on either side, and I am surprised anyone else would.

                This wasn’t just a plain open-carry situation – police were responding to a call in which people were scared because a gun was being pointed at them. That gun was missing safety features that might have calmed their fears, at least a little. According to police, rather than put hands-up as ordered, he reached for the gun (though it’s possible police either ordered him to drop it, or he thought that was what they wanted and he was reaching for it to discard it or show them it wasn’t real).


                • This gets back to the general failure of cops to be trusted in most minority communities. If the cops have earned trust then people will give them some slack even in difficult situations. In most poor and minority communities the cops are seen as just another gang or occupiers so they get no slack.

                  All my hockey coaches in college were NYC cops. One was a nice guy, although he only taught law at the academy. The rest were loud mouth bullies mostly. Of course we were white hockey players they liked to coach, so my guess is they were a bit worse to the people they clearly didn’t like.


                  • There’s been a lack of acknowledgement by the police of that distrust, especially in the face of the Black Live Matter movement. They seem to largely have been viewing it as an attack and circling the wagons instead of recognizing the need and oppurtunity to build trust, even if they believe the police haven’t done anything wrong or improper.


            • IIRC the responding officer was fired from a previous department and that department felt that he was such a loose canon that they said he shouldn’t be hired by anyone.

              I think the failure to convey “probably fake” is irrelevant. If you are trusted to enforce the law and use deadly force or any force by law, you should have to prove that you can be cool, calm, rational, and know how to deescalate a situation.

              As far as I can tell, police get very little training in conflict resolution and many have problems with being hotheads. A while ago, I was walking down the street and the cops pulled up and began talking to a drunk, and possibly mentally ill homeless person. The cop started friendly but the homeless person made a go-away gesture like a sad 8 year old. The cop replied back “Hey man, why you gotta be an asshole?”


              • The thing is some cops do have training and skills in deescalation. I’ve told this before but i had a client who was mentally ill and threatened her husband and later Ak State Troopers with a gun. The Troopers backed off and talked to her. They were supremely chill and arrested her with no problem the next day. They deescalated and calmed with a person who was clearly unstable and armed. That might not work in every case but some cops know how to do that. We should be holding cops to that standard; did they do everything to calm and avoid violence.


              • I don’t know anything about the cop’s history, and if the PD didn’t do their due diligence in hiring/training/deployment, then have at ’em. I am basing what I write above only on what I know of the incident, and the fact that two experts seem to think the officer’s actions were within the bounds of “reasonable”, since at the time the cops knew neither his age nor that the gun was not real.

                Edge cases don’t tell us a lot. I’ll reserve my harshest words for the clear-cut, victim-completely-unarmed, no-two-ways-about-it cases.

                There’s plenty of them.


                • I agree slightly. It is much easier to be certain about the obvious clear cut cases and there are plenty of them.

                  There is a big problem though. Rice wasn’t an edge case. The real world with cops and people is usually messy and unclear with imperfect evidence. Most cases won’t ever be clear cut. By , essentially, giving the cops the benefit of the doubt in all those messy cases they get, i would say, far to much leeway. Being a cop is a hard job and often when they get called out they will have imperfect info and tense situations. That is their job to handle those well. If they can’t then they fail with bad consequence for others. There are to many messy situations where they seem to fail. Rice was general police work, the kind they will be judged on.

                  The standard with cops seems to be that unless they shot someone in the back then give them the benefit of the doubt. This doesn’t put the pressure on them to deescalate, to chill situations instead of inflaming them. So much of what happens in hard to cop areas ( mostly poor and minority areas) will be uncertain. The residents see and feel how much of the brunt they get of that. Cops always fall back on some uncertainty or messiness such as the suspects hands were in his pocket or he was acting weird. Yeah true sometimes but in general we should expect them to handle those well ie: calm and deescalate.


                  • At the same time, if I take a realistic-looking gun to a park and start pointing it at people, who here will be surprised if I get myself shot?

                    I reiterate – this is a bad case to hang the argument that police are out of control on. This isn’t an “unarmed, hands-in-pockets, cops-just-happened-upon-this-guy” deal.

                    This is a “people thought he had a gun, because it looked like one and he was pointing it at people, so they called 911 and told the cops, ‘hey, there’s a guy here with a gun waving it around and we are scared, please come help'” kind of deal.


                    • Was he, in fact, pointing it at people? That is a huge question. If he was simply in possession of the gun… that is legal last I checked, right? Again, where are the 2nd Amendment defenders on this? Where are Rice’s 2nd Amendment rights?


                      • The 911 caller said he was. If they were lying or exaggerating about that, they are as crappy as people who have pulled similar stunts when they see someone open-carrying in a Wal-Mart and end up getting that person shot by a cop.

                        But if they were telling the truth, that’s a perfectly-reasonable time to call the cops – and when those cops arrive, they will probably come in hot.


              • “IIRC the responding officer was fired from a previous department and that department felt that he was such a loose canon that they said he shouldn’t be hired by anyone.”

                Is there any proof of this or is this same memory in which Rice didn’t have a gun (or a reasonable facsimile)?


            • Glyph,

              By saying that you’re agreeing that the use of lethal force on a twelve year old who possessed a toy gun 3 seconds after arriving on the scene is justified, yes?

              I just don’t understand that view, myself. What’s odd is that we’re in a situation where all I can do to respond to your view is re-describe the situation while throwing my hands in the air and saying “really?”.


              • I’d parse it further than that.

                the use of lethal force on a [twelve year old*] who possessed a [toy**] gun [3***] seconds after arriving on the scene is [justified****]

                *fact not known to responding officers at the time

                **fact not known to responding officers at the time

                ***hyperbole? Was it 3? It was long enough, according to them, for a command to be issued and not complied with

                ****maybe “tragic, but perhaps understandable”, or “excusable” would work better. I’m not sure.

                The issue is not what we know – the issue is what they knew.

                “The officers ordered him to stop and to show his hands, and he went into his waistband and pulled out the weapon,” he said.



                • 3 seconds is, in fact, an exaggeration. He was shot in under 2 seconds after the cops pulled up (there’s a video, it’s easy to time, and the time has been widely reported). The cops also lied, pretty extensively, about what happened, indicating among other things that after the officer exited the vehicle he repeated the same line 3 times (in under 2 seconds, apparently speed-talking like the Micro Machines dude), and that as they pulled up they observed him and several other people sitting at the table (again, there’s video; he was the only one in the area). They then did not perform any first aid, and tackled his sister.

                  I have very little doubt that this will ultimately be ruled a justified shooting, but that alone is a problem. He was murdered, and the murderer will get away with it because he’s a cop.


                  • I just timed myself on a stopwatch, and I have no problem repeating “put your hands in the air” twice in well under two seconds (I can’t get the full third repetition in before the clock clears two seconds, but I’m not hopped up on adrenaline).

                    If they didn’t perform first aid, that’s a separate question from the shooting itself.


                      • Even if the shooting WAS justified, failure to then render first aid might be its own problem (whether that failure is a crime or not, I think we certainly want officers to render aid when/where possible). So I don’t see the relevance of bringing that bit in to discussion of whether the shooting was justified (or “reasonable”, or “tragically understandable”, or whatever).


                    • How intelligible were your words?

                      More importantly, what does brain research tell us about the time it takes to process verbal commands? How does this vary person to person? How reasonably fast can we expect someone to respond to barked orders in rapid succession? I bet we have pretty good data on this… data that should inform best practices by cops.


                      • Kazzy, I am relying on the cops’ testimony that he reached for his belt rather than the sky.

                        Even assuming they are telling the truth and not lying (or, falsely-remembering things), I can certainly envision a scenario in which my first panicky reaction to being yelled at by a cop would be to “show” them the fake gun…”shit, it’s not even REAL, I can clear this up…”

                        Which would make it somewhat understandable, if still tragic, when I got shot for it.


                      • Chris:

                        What lies? I’m still waitnig for proof of any lies. Maybe you, Kazzy and Saul can get together and remember something. Besides cops aren’t EMTs and the failure to give aid isn’t a crime.


                • Question:

                  Where is all the support for open carry?

                  I mean, for all the officer new, Tamir Rice was a law abiding adult with a legally possessed weapon exercising his second amendment right.

                  Do the folks who accept his death want cops shooting any and everyone in possession of a weapon? If not, why do they accept it in this case?

                  Seriously folks, this isn’t hard. If you believe in the 2nd Amendment, you MUST denounce Rice’s killing.


                  • Assuming the police account is truthful (Chris above points out it may not be), he reached for the gun rather than putting his hands up as told.

                    I would expect any open-carrier who did the same, to get shot.


                    • And if he didn’t reach for it? If the cops account is proven false (as the video I’ve seen indicates it is)?

                      Were Cliven Bundy and his ilk shot? Pretty sure they pointed their weapons at federal officials and law enforcement, no?


                      • If Bundy and cronies had been shot, I wouldn’t have questioned it.

                        Does anyone know anything about the two experts who ruled the officer’s actions reasonable? Is there a reason to suspect they are biased or incompetent to judge that which we here are, obviously, fully-qualified to judge?


                        • The cops did the right thing be deescalating with Bundy. He seems to be a crook, but no reason to start a firefight. The general conversation would be much different though wouldn’t it. Black people are complaining about decades of being shot and beaten and the right wing reaction ( not yours) is to mock or minimize BLM. Or Notme’s take of just backing up the cops. Rice or all the others dont’ seem to add up to even one Ruby Ridge or Waco which were messy situations with unsympathetic citizens.


                        • If Bundy and cronies had been shot, I wouldn’t have questioned it.

                          Why not? Why wouldn’t you question it? How would you know whether those deaths were the result of a legitimate use of deadly force without considering the situation under which that force is used?


                          • Bundy and cronies supposedly pointed weapons at LEOs. Had they been shot, I would see that as a perfectly-understandable outcome.

                            It might not have been the ideal outcome (as greginak points out, deescalating and avoiding a firefight was a better option) but had it gone the other way, I would blame Bundy and co. for that outcome, not the cops (presuming that the cops were otherwise acting lawfully and Bundy and co. were not).


                              • Ha ha!

                                But no, really, my answer is implied there. Pointing (or reaching for) a weapon (or performing an action which a reasonable person might reasonably interpret as such), when a cop (or anyone!) has a weapon pointed at you, means you will probably get shot; and that is on you (since self-defense is a nearly-inviolable principle), unless you were otherwise acting lawfully, while they were not.

                                IANAL, but according to the 911 call report, Rice does not sound like he was acting lawfully (waving a realistic-looking gun around so that people fear for their lives enough to call 911 sounds like, at minimum, “disturbing some peace” to me). According to police (and I concede they could be lying) Rice did not comply with their (presumably-lawful) order to put his hands up, and instead appeared to (again according to them) reach for the weapon.

                                Am I 100% confident they did the best they could? Hell no, Smokey.

                                But I also certainly am not comfortable arguing they didn’t do the best they could, given what they knew at the time.


                                • Waving a toy gun around is disturbing the peace? That explains how I got shot and killed repetitively when I was a small lad.
                                  Oh wait im white in the burbs. So I was playing war, not actually signing up to be shot. In less than three seconds. Because im black.


                                  • Rice was a nearly-200-pound, 5’7″ child, waving around a pellet-gun replica of a Colt 1911 pistol that was missing the brightly-colored plastic trim that is intended to visually-distinguish it from a “real” gun.

                                    And (it’s hard to tell from the video, but I suspect also black) people around him called 911 on him, because they were frightened of him pointing this Colt replica at them.

                                    And (allegedly) when told to raise his hands, he (allegedly) reached for this Colt replica instead.

                                    Sometimes, bad things happen. This may be one of them.

                                    Many mistakes can be easily-prevented. Some, given imperfect knowledge and the dictates of hard reality, are not-so-easily prevented.

                                    You obviously feel it’s the former here.

                                    IMO, there’s a good case it’s the latter.

                                    Again I ask if anyone here is able to in any way impeach the testimony of the two experts who just deemed the shooting “reasonable” – not “totally-awesome and the best thing to ever happen”, but “reasonable” – that is, well within the bounds of the assumptions a reasonable person might make under the circumstances, given what was known to them at the time.

                                    Because from what I’ve read, that certainly seems like a possibility.


                                    • “Again I ask if anyone here is able to in any way impeach the testimony of the two experts who just deemed the shooting “reasonable” – not “totally-awesome and the best thing to ever happen”, but “reasonable” – that is, well within the bounds of the assumptions a reasonable person might make under the circumstances, given what was known to them at the time.”

                                      The problem is that from that point the entire arguement is political. In other words, the entire basis of two experts looking at if the shooting is “good” assumes one set of prejudices. If you dont agree with these presets, than the results of the shooting panal will still be biased in your view.

                                      I agree with you, not because I always agree with the police (not that I think you do) but because the evidence presented against them is vastly weaker.


                                      • I am entirely open to evidence that the ‘experts’ that returned the “reasonable” verdict are unacceptably biased, incompetent, or otherwise unreliable. That’d be just another form of garden-variety regulatory capture, right? And we’ve seen the system, from judges and DAs down to street-level cops, rubber-stamp all kinds of unconscionable crap in the past.

                                        Maybe (probably?) the experts are former cops, and/or chosen by the PD to do these reviews as “friendlies”; or they are otherwise predisposed to seeing things from the cops’ POV and accepting their narrative.

                                        But we have to do more than just speculate about this; nobody here has bothered to do anything other than say “it could be so”, which is true as far as it goes, but is not enough. Who are they? What is their expertise level and past record? Are they generally viewed as professional and as impartial as can be expected?

                                        IF we accept that a police shooting can in theory be justifiable, then on occasion, one is going to be so; and one in which a kid who may not have much looked like a kid was waving around a fairly realistic-looking gun at strangers in public seems like the kind of incident that could possibly be.

                                        I understand that this particular incident comes on the heels of a bunch of others, and it involves a kid, which makes emotions run higher.

                                        But coming on the heels of other incidents and involving a kid do not, in and of themselves, change the probability of whether this instance was justifiable or not.

                                        As I’ve said, the one thing that gives me biggest pause, is why the cops approached Rice so quickly and closely. That, if nothing else, seems like a bad practice to me, for the cops’ own safety as well as a suspect’s, because it seemingly narrowed the non-violent resolution options right off the bat.


                                        • “… it seemingly narrowed the non-violent resolution options right off the bat.”

                                          To me, that alone is enough to call the entire thing into question.

                                          The situation was not violent until the cops appeared. They instigated the violence.


                                          • The situation was not violent until the cops appeared. They instigated the violence.

                                            I…don’t know about this. I mean, yes, technically. But the people who called 911 because they were “scared as s**t” obviously felt the pre-existing situation wasn’t safe either.

                                            And moreover, the monopoly of violence by the state is the sort of thing we authorize them to do, to prevent loss of life. Had they tackled him and he’d cracked his skull on the sidewalk because they thought it was a real gun (or he ran when they approached), that’d still be them “instigating violence”, and he’d still be dead. But it would still in my mind be, at least arguably, a possibly-understandable (if tragic and unwanted) outcome.

                                            Once you go to a public place and start pointing a fake gun at strangers, things may go very badly. That’s just the way it is.


                                            • I’m uncomfortable — VERY uncomfortable — with the cops relying solely on the prior complaints. As we saw with the WalMart situation (I believe it was WalMart… where the gentleman was shot simply holding a gun in the gun section because of complaints he was pointing it despite all video evidence to the contrary), these complaints can be… inaccurate. So, the cops should have been mindful of the possibility that Rice was acting in a threatening way, but absent their own witnessing of such behavior, it should not have dictated their actions. They should have assessed the situation for themselves and, as you note, this was done in a remarkably brief amount of time… in the dark… at a distance.

                                              Because if we let cops roll up on anyone and start firing based on 911 calls, well, that creates all sorts of perverse incentives for anyone with a phone and the ability to push three buttons on it, no?


                                              • They should have assessed the situation for themselves and, as you note, this was done in a remarkably brief amount of time… in the dark… at a distance.

                                                While in a bullet-proof car.

                                                Why the hell did they even *get out*? Why not just drive up and demand he drop the gun?

                                                I mean, let’s assume he’s really a bad guy. He starts shooting at them, they’re *in a car*, and can completely ignore that, or even drive over him. (Not sure if police are allowed to do that.) He runs, they’re *in a car* and can easily give chase, or radio for backup. He drops the gun, they get out…he picks it up and starts shooting, well, that’s *exactly* the situation they put themselves in to start with, so whatever.

                                                Oh, right. I forgot. It’s not the job of the police to deescalate things, or to *stop* crimes. It’s the job of the police to leap out, act like psychotic assholes, and *then* figure out what should have happened and pretend that was what was actually happening.


                                        • I am entirely open to evidence that the ‘experts’ that returned the “reasonable” verdict are unacceptably biased, incompetent, or otherwise unreliable.

                                          None of those things. Just biased in favor of finding that cops who shot a twelve year old within two seconds of arriving at the scene engaged in “reasonable” behavior.


                  • Really, I wasn’t aware the 2nd amendment allowed you to point your weapon at folks. Sorry, can you help out with the reasoning on why if I support the 2nd I must denounce the killing b/c it seems a bit thin even.


                    • Evidence he pointed it at people.

                      Evidence he posed a reasonable threat at the time the cops open fired.

                      And dont’ say I have to provide evidence of the contrary. You kill someone — or support killing someone — the burden is on you.

                      Show the evidence.


                      • There is evidence of him pointing it around. Whether at people off camera or not, I’m not sure. I don’t think it’s an especially unfair assumption.

                        Where the defense of the police falls apart, really, is it was not out when he was shot and the video just doesn’t support the narrative they gave.


                        • I just looked, and yes there is video of him waving it around, though it’s hard to tell if he points it at anyone (one person passes right by him on the sidewalk at one point).

                          The thing that seems weirdest to me about it, is why the police rolled right up on top of him like that. If they had been informed he was armed, keeping some distance might have allowed them the space to negotiate a peaceful resolution.

                          The other thing that surprised me is that the autopsy report lists him at 5’7″, 195#. He outweighed me by 15 pounds, and was only slightly shorter. That’s a big twelve-year-old.

                          In layered or heavy winter clothes, his extreme youthfulness was likely not visually readily-apparent.


                    • There is about a second, or less, difference between having a gun pointed and having it slung over your chest with hand on grip. There have been plenty of people carrying them like that. Could i claim that as a reasonable fear and shoot that person down? If didn’t shoot them they could have leveled their gun and shot me down in a second.

                      In fact a few years ago i was shooting with some guys at river bank after a softball tourny. One dipshit swept the gun over all of us while he was jawing about how good a shot he was. Could i have shot him dead for that, he had pointed the gun at everybody there.


                  • Nice twist, Kazzy. Very nice indeed.

                    {{It reminds me of something I said during the C. Hebdo threads: that when a picture of Obama dressed in traditional African tribal clothing was pulled from US newspapers I didn’t hear any of the free-speech absolutists shouting “don’t back down!” “publish the picture!”.}}


                    • I mean, this seems obvious to me, no?

                      If Rice was indeed pointing the gun at the officers or people when the cops arrived, okay, we’re talking about something very different.

                      But the argument seems to be, “HE HAD A GUN!” And in other cases it was, “THEY THOUGHT HE HAD A GUN!”

                      And yet, when white guys show up to pro-Obama rallies with M-16s across their back, all we here is, “SECOND AMENDMENT!”

                      So which is it?


        • The Palestinians are what they are. For the past decade now it’s been the Israeli’s out of fear, exhaustion and exasperation that have been pushing for this nonsense. Bibi and the Likud have finally stonewalled themselves into another security fiasco. Well horray, they’ve finally got themselves a new uprising. So much for the quiet on the West Bank being exclusively due to the Israeli wall and security procedures.


          • You aren’t making a great case for a Palestinian state. Israelis were sold on the idea of land for peace. If Israel still has to deal with the Palestibuans and their allies after Palestinian statehood while severely controlling their own actions to maintain the “peace”, Israel isn’t getting much.


              • Israel’s purpose is to provide a safe haven for the Jewish people where we can run our own affairs. If the Palestinians are going to continue a constant war against Israel even after they have full sovereignty and be a threat to that than yes, a case for a a Palestinian state must be made to Israel.


                • Lee,

                  I didn’t expect you to agree with me (well, you did wrt Israel holding all the cards here), just pointing it out. But your response makes me wanna give a +1 to North’s comment below this even more. So, I’ll give it a +2.


            • Well, since the Palestinians have no state that’s rather moot. The Israeli settlers are merrily absorbing more and more of the West Bank while Bibi twiddles his thumbs and parlays Israel’s future away to maintain his own electoral coalition. The Palestinians? No, they can’t have their own state, no they can’t be in the Israeli one (they aren’t advocating for such, yet, but God[ess?] help if they start to), the Israeli’s would really love it if they’d just disappear but that’s not in the cards.
              There’s no excuse for the way the Palestinians behave, suicide attacks and murder is inexcusable. The Israeli’s, however, are holding the cards here. It is their actions that dictate what happens going forward. It’s either two states, a bi-national state (most likely eventually non-Jewish) or apartheid (and most likely the dissolution of the Israeli state). The default outcome is the latter most option and Bibi sits and calls the status quos acceptable. Tick tock.


              • the Israeli’s would really love it if they’d just disappear but that’s not in the cards.

                Israel needs one more step to the right, maybe just a half step, and it will be in the cards. It’s rapidly becoming their only solution to the Palestinian problem.

                But for now, they’re sticking with apartheid.


          • Except as Jeffrey Goldburg points out, Muslim leaders have been telling a lie that Jews wanted to take over the Done of the Rock and Al-Aqsa since 1928. It’s part and parcel of Muslim Jew-hatred.

            What John Marshal is basically doing is saying that Israel needs to better control it’s crazies because it excites the Palestinians and Muslims too much. Meanwhike, they got to indulge in the fever swamp like they did for decades.

            It’s the equivalent of asking LGBT people to stay in the closet because their identity and actions make Evsngelicals go crazy.


            • If the argument is Muslim leaders have been lying about this for a long time and now fringe Israelis are saying the same thing while the unfortunate situation for Palestinians has continued for many years then that isn’t much of an argument for why Muslims shouldn’t believe it. The religious right in Israel has been becoming more and more powerful and it isn’t like the PM has done a lot to build trust with the Palestinians. None of which justifies knife attacks or violence of course since that seems to always have to be said.


            • Marshall also lays out that parts of Bibi’s electoral coalition are pushing for this while Bibi ignores them and pays lip service to opposition. What Marshal is saying is that Israel needs to get its ass in gear and do something substantive to move the needle towards the two state outcome. It’s hard to believe that these kind of viral attacks would be widespread if Israel wasn’t stonewalling the peace process.


              • I still see this as basically saying “we know that the Palestinians will not and cannot move so the Israelis have to do the work.” From the Israeli perspective, they made several good faith attempts at a two-state solution under Barak, Sharon, and Olmert and were greated with calls for total surrender. This may or may not be the case but it’s how most Israeli’s perceive the situation and their opinions matter in this case.

                What if Israel does as the world expects it to and the response of the Palestinians is to press on for the destruction of green line Israel? I really don’t think international politics would let Israel respond meaningfully. It would require Israel to endure the hits.


                • Lee, international opinion does what exactly? Kvetch and cavil if Israel does something they don’t like? Who the fish cares about that? The Israeli’s don’t. The US protects Israel’s interests at the UN, not a single non-Middle eastern power cares enough about the Palestinians to put their own forces in that theater and Israel can mop the floor with every Middle Eastern nation (or even all of them together) with minimal effort.

                  If Israel withdrew, established two states and the Palestinians then tried attacking over the green line, engaging in terrorism or otherwise pushing further to try and “destroy” Israel then the Israelis would do basically WHATEVER was necessary to stop them and they would succeed. There’d be disproportionate casualties on the Palestinian side. Some people at the UN would shriek and all the then US would veto any consequences while the rest of the west grumbled about Israel while privately being completely fine with it. Then the Israeli’s would withdraw. This would repeat itself until the Palestinians got a clue. With the Israeli’s separated from the Palestinians the Boycott/divestment movement would most likely stall or reverse; the demographic concern would be neutralized and the Israeli’s would simply shrug and say “Move to Palestine” any time Palestinian refugees came up. The country would be secured and Israel would have no serious long term threats.


                • Oh and also; even in the -extremely- unlikely scenario where the international community (somehow, magically) prevents Israel from directly retaliating or fully retaliating to Palestinian aggression the worst that the Palestinians could do would not remotely present an existential threat to Israel. You and I both know that.


                  • The Palestinisns alone might be a threat but I’m relatively sure that the Israel’s think that the lack of stability elsewhere in the Middle East will spill over.


                    • Yeah well vague neocon allusions to instability aren’t going to protect Israel long term and it seems evident that partial separation and security policy wasn’t exclusively responsible for the relative calm vis a vis the West Bank that Israel enjoyed since Arafat shuffled off this mortal coil. So unless the Palestinians simply give up or emigrate the Israeli’s are going to have to come up with an answer; and the longer they put it off the worse it’s going to be (either in difficulty or in moral abhorrence).


                • Define “the hits.” The trouble with your formulation is that you’re articulating a level of unilateral restraint that is probably simply impossible for the quasi-state in the West Bank to accomplish, and you’re doing so while articulating every Israeli activity that constitutes a provocation on the Israeli side (the ongoing blockade of Gaza, settlement construction, disorganized violence by Israeli citizens against Arabs, etc.) as something that in some sense or another doesn’t count. If you keep on counting like that, you’ll do so until the situation devolves into genocide or the end of the Jewish state.