Morning Ed: World {2017.10.02.M}

[Wo1] Macron continues his assaults on French traditions.

[Wo2] Introducing democratic dictatorships. But not really.

[Wo3] International aid may not only be failing, but may be making things worse.

[Wo4] What’s going on with Europe’s Social Democrats? Europe shifting center right and the US shifting center left represent a sense of convergence, when you think about it.

[Wo5] As interesting (or more) counterfactual than the South winning the Civil War is the Guadalupe-Hidalgo treaty being signed and Mexican land being taken up and down. I thought about that when I read this piece about the idea of merging the US and Mexico.

[Wo6] One does not expect a naval battle in Congo.

[Wo7] The Carolinas split because, among other things, the rice farmers of South Carolina just couldn’t live with the tobacco farmers in North Carolina. In China, there is a split between rice growers and wheat growers in terms of sexual liberation.

[Wo8] The caste system and fears in impurity are having unforeseen and deadly consequences. And here’s another article on India and cleanliness.

[Wo9] Volcanoes under the ice in Antarctica.


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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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92 thoughts on “Morning Ed: World {2017.10.02.M}

  1. Wo1: Articles that assail France’s labor code always have very strict and materialistic definitions of prosperity. Quality of life like the ability to take a vacation or earn a living without having to task rabbit is also an issue of prosperity. I’m somewhat in agreement that France’s labor code does not work with the modern economy but an ultra-flexible system is just going to lead to a lot of abuse and less prosperity.

    Wo2: Thai politics are confusing.

    Wo7: I did not find this article convincing at all. Correlation does not equal causation.

    Wo8: The problem is that the caste system is so ingrained in India that getting rid of it is going to be a Herculean task.

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        • Until I hear that from the police, I won’t bet on it. People don’t know what full auto weapons sound like. I’ve also heard that it was a modified semi-auto and I’ve heard it was a home built.

          Right now, I’m not betting on anything except that some guy shot into a crowd from a nearby hotel and people are dead and injured.

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            • I not commenting on it until the LVPD and the FBI have had a chance to process the scenes and the events. Information is incomplete and subject to change rapidly with the first 48 hours.

              Talk to me again on Wednesday.

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              • Nope, already know. White guy, 64 years old, name released, lived about 80 miles outside of Vegas.

                All that was released by 0500 Pacific time (because that’s when I heard it).

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                • Indeed. Perhaps out of place, but my response was a snarky response to the broader question of when we get to speculate and when we don’t. It seems as if the decision on when to do which depends largely on who was — or who we think was — behind the acts.

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                  • I don’t care about the who so much as the why and how and if there is anything in those two items that we can learn from. For those, we need details that will take time to develop.

                    Honestly, the specifics of who are, quite frankly, irrelevant to the public. I mean, 64 year old white male is really about all the ‘who’ we as the public need.

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                • That was after the Internet Geniuses had identified the wrong person.

                  Some of them doubled down on stupid, and not only jumped to the wrong person, but grabbed photos and social media info for someone who lived across the country but just had the same name as the wrong person.

                  I’ve already seen enough clear BS floating around about the shooting, and hope to god that the two people incorrectly identified with the shooter (before that was released) don’t end up stuck with that label because of idiots forwarding crap for eternity.

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                  • The shooter’s dead isn’t he? He shot himself before cops could get into his hotel room, right?

                    That seems a pretty easy distinguishing feature one could use.

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                    • You’d think, but you didn’t see the Great Internet Detectives spring into action back when all that was known was a “person of interest” the police were looking for.

                      Turns out said person of interest’s ex-husband is anti-Trump, and things took off from their. And persist, I’m sure, in Twitter and facebook and forwarded emails.

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              • Sally Kohn said this:

                Look we don’t know yet what motivated the shooter in Vegas. If it *was* political views/ideology, then it is terrorism. By definition. But we should wait for facts. As we should with *any* shooter regardless of race or religion.— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) October 2, 2017

                She’s probably right.

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              • So Nevada criminal law says:

                NRS 202.4415 “Act of terrorism” defined.

                1. “Act of terrorism” means any act that involves the use or attempted use of sabotage, coercion or violence which is intended to:

                (a) Cause great bodily harm or death to the general population; or

                (b) Cause substantial destruction, contamination or impairment of:

                (1) Any building or infrastructure, communications, transportation, utilities or services; or

                (2) Any natural resource or the environment.

                2. As used in this section, “coercion” does not include an act of civil disobedience.

                But the cops aren’t calling it an act of terrorism. Even though all mass shootings are, in Nevada, by definition terrorism.

                So no, having determined that he was white and not obviously Muslim, we’re past speculation mode and straight into making excuses mode.

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                • That’s not a good definition of terrorism (arguably, we shouldn’t have a legal definition), but if that’s what’s on the books it seems to me that he would should be charged with terrorism if he were still alive.

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                • Well, the interesting thing here is that the guy is dead so what laws he broke isn’t really an issue anymore, unless or until he is found to have had accomplices who then may be subject to certain penalties based on how his acts are categorized legally (note: I am not speculating that he did have accomplices… purely a hypothetical).

                  So at this point, the extent to which we do or do not consider it an act of terrorism is merely political. So, yea, that’s where we are.

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                  • FBI definition is the usual one applied:

                    “Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

                    Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;

                    Appear intended
                    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

                    Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.

                    Unless the individual posted explanations facebook or a suicide note or shouted political slogans at the victims, its pretty difficult for anyone to know.

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          • I’m not expert.

            But the sound sure sounded like full auto. I am speculating, but that’s the consensus of the office gun nuts (there are a few). Either that or the guy has the fastest trigger finger in the world or the audio, or the video audio was speeded up.

            That’s regardless of whether or not it’s homemade, or a lisc. full auto weapon, or an illegally modified one.

            But yeah, I get you. It’s not THAT important to the main issue. Just……geebus really? Such a waste.

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          • @jaybird

            Here is where my inner-leftie comes out and I agree with LGM more than I agree with OT and god knows I have my problems with LGM often enough.

            The media released the name of the shooter and he was a 64-year old white guy “known to law enforcement.” But they waited a bit. First they released a description and name of his companion/romantic partner and had no trouble describing her as Asian.

            If the shooter was anything but white, there would be no wait to speculation from everyone and anyone including the media, law enforcement, and certainly from cheeto benito.

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            • What the media chooses to do is not relevant. ‘I’ am holding off until the police have had a chance to develop some solid information, precisely because the media are so unreliable right now.

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            • First they released a description and name of his companion/romantic partner and had no trouble describing her as Asian.

              To play to stereotypes about female Asian superpredators? The more plausible reason is that she was a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into a mass shooting, and police wanted to find her ASAP. They already had the shooter.

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            • That sounds like auto fire. Rate of fire seems a little on the low side, so it is possible to pull a trigger that fast, but it’s hard to do it that consistently. Could be done with a crank or bump fire.

              Won’t know for certain until the details on the weapon(s) are released.

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              • Yeah, that sounds machine aided in some fashion, especially for the durations involved.

                Even really fast semi-auto fire would have some built in breaks for correcting the sighting… it’s just “natural” … of course this is so sociopathic that maybe all bets are off; but I’d start with the assumption that the rate of fire suggests machine aided.

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      • Also there are 58 dead and hundreds wounded. We know that much. I think the more cynical commentators are right. After Newton, nothing was going to change. The passionate minority here is too strong and they seem to accept mass shootings as being perfectly acceptable a price for their “freedoms.”

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        • …they seem to accept mass shootings as being perfectly acceptable a price for their “freedoms.”…

          That, and normally the laws proposed after these mass shootings clearly wouldn’t and couldn’t have stopped them.

          IMHO that’s the disconnect which keeps laws from being passed.

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          • Gotta agree with , the fact that every such event is used as an attempt to push a gun control wishlist does not foster a willingness to help.

            Although to be fair, the GOP never wants to talk about things that might help, either, they just go along with whatever the increasingly unhinged NRA says.

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            • Because, in reality, someone motivated enough to die in the attempt to take another’s life, cannot effectively be prevented. At least without rendering null most of the liberties and freedoms we take for granted.

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              • Because, in reality, someone motivated enough to die in the attempt to take another’s life, cannot effectively be prevented

                As true as this is, there are ways to effectively prevent someone to take out several score of people’s lives in one single event.

                You cannot stop someone to take a knife, or a gun, and kill one or two people. There should be ways to make it difficult for them to kill twenty or fifty.

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                • Actually, you can’t. About the best you can do is prevent a person from spree killing that many, but if they are of moderate intelligence, have even modest means, and have the patience to plan quietly, you can’t stop them except by accident.

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                  • The good news is, if most of the spree stabbers are an indication, that those people are not of even moderate intelligence. Without the right tools or a half decent plan, enthusiasm usually doesn’t do all that much.

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                    • The good news is, if most of the spree stabbers are an indication, that those people are not of even moderate intelligence. Without the right tools or a half decent plan, enthusiasm usually doesn’t do all that much.

                      When I think of identifiable low functioning spree killers armed with guns, what comes to mind is the Virginia Tech shooter.

                      However Bush closed the loophole(s) he used to slip through the cracks in the rules which prevent the mentally ill from having guns.

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                • There should be ways to make it difficult for them to kill twenty or fifty.

                  Against someone who is smart, has a budget, thinks about it for years, isn’t on the radar of law enforcement, and isn’t planning on his own survival?

                  Thus far, “no”. Hardening any specific aspect of society just means they do something else.

                  That’s why the moment we start talking about “mass shootings” policy the conversation is instantly shifted to reducing “gun violence”. In practice this means doing something about “suicide by gun”, even if it’s only changing that to “suicide by something else”. To be fair, the gun is the dominant symbol of death/suicide in our culture so getting rid of it might reduce the actual suicide rate until it’s replaced but there are cultures without guns which have much higher suicide rates.

                  I think a total gun ban might make the “make a name by killing people” problem worse. If all you’re interested in is a high body count, firearms aren’t the be-all and end-all. Tim McVay killed a lot more people and he was min-maxing a political statement, not just trying to pimp out his body count.

                  Although unrealistic, in terms of dealing with these “make a name” guys, I think tearing up the first AM and preventing them from becoming household names is the most useful thing we could do (and yes that would have other nasty side effects).

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          • In… not defense[1], but explanation:

            A lot of anti-gun people have a tendency to view mass shootings as sort of an undifferentiated mass of awfulness, and often fail to really separate them out from other kinds of gun deaths, from street crime to suicides. This leads the periodic mass shooting atrocities to primarily standing out as symbols of what a lot of anti-gun folks see as basically madness: “We’re so committed to letting people own guns that we will even tolerate this.”

            Now, again, this isn’t something I’m defending. In fact, I think it’s one of the worst possible ways to approach public policy, since it makes it all to easy to short-circuit any questions about effectiveness, drawbacks, unintended consequences, and even constitutionality that may arise. Once the thing you’re trying to stop is as much a symbol as a problem in its own right, the policies you offer will tend to also be symbols, rather than solutions.

            [1] I’m generally opposed to gun control, and think gun control advocacy is a rolling disaster of anti-persuasion. Then again, gun rights advocacy is also a rolling disaster of anti-persuasion.

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            • Largely agree with your assessment. The debate long ago left the realm of setting sound public policy in a way that doesn’t overly or impermissibly infringe on important political rights.

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            • Once the thing you’re trying to stop is as much a symbol as a problem in its own right, the policies you offer will tend to also be symbols, rather than solutions.

              Very, very well put.

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            • pillsy: [1] I’m generally opposed to gun control, and think gun control advocacy is a rolling disaster of anti-persuasion. Then again, gun rights advocacy is also a rolling disaster of anti-persuasion.

              I 100% agree

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        • There are 59 dead. Not that that changes the rest of your comment. But just because I feel accuracy is important. We probably won’t know the actual death toll until sometime tomorrow or the next day, when they aren’t able to save some more of the worst-injured victims.

          But it’s certainly not going to get smaller.

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  2. The short summary version of the Catalonia referendum seems to be 42% turnout, 90% of those in favor of independence, and ~900 people injured in violence with the national police. I have no idea if any of that means anything significant or not. Perhaps J_A could offer some insight.

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    • Isn’t the whole point of the EU to break down national borders though and form a more united area? I would think that allowing groups like this to separate, much like the German states such as Luxembourg, would be good for the whole. It would certainly solve that whole Alsace/Lorraine problem.

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    • Sorry, heavy day yesterday

      Lots of things happened Sunday

      1- Factually, the referendum, qua referendum, was a disaster. It’s not clear how many poll places were open; the electoral rolls were seized; people was “allowed” (encouraged) wherever they found an available urn, and many voted several times (and a NO voter filmed herself voting four times to prove it); there was no wY to audit the counting, so any numbers that came out are worthless.

      2- The central government response could not have been more inept. They insisted in making this a criminal, as opposed to a political, issue, and sent thousands of policemen (various forces) to block and close polling places, seize ballots, etc. Though the central government disputes the about 800 injuries, the number is probably accurate, though the severity of the injuries was magnified by the pro-independence side. The rest of Europe was astonished at the images. I read U.K. and French press and, while firmly opposing independence, are in shock about the response.

      3- The Catalonian people are “royally pissed off” (sorry, ). They are attacking the hotels were the “visiting policemen” are lodged. The police unions are screaming for additional forces to protect the current police forces. The central government has ordered the visiting police to stay in the region. Related.y, the central government has asked the public prosecutors to investigate the very lacksadaisical way the regional police (the Mossos d’Esquadra) went through their duty of enforcing the judicial orders to stop the referendum. Today, the region is paralyzed by a general strike, with many of the main roads blocked.

      4- Politically, not only nothing has changed, but the situation is even worse, and the options are more limited. The government is discussing whether or not to invoke Article 155 of the Constitution, that would allow them to take over the powers and competences of the regional government -in essence dissolving it. Some of the proponents of Article 150 argue it should be used only to call for immediate regional elections to replace the current authorities, given that they are, officially, lawbreakers. The (so far unspoken) question is: how do you stop the current authorities (or their allies) to run again, and win again, particularly in the current “royally pissed off” (I already apologized, @maribou) environment. On the other hand, if you dissolve the regional government and don’t call for immediate elections, it is, in practice, as big a constitutional violation as the whole referendum thing was. Central government president Rajoy has said they will never negotiate with the current authorities since they are now “outside the law”.

      5- It is expected that the regional government will start seizing (or trying to) the central government assets and installations. How -that is, who with- is unclear.

      6- Another unspoken -but whispered- question: Where was the King during all this? He’s the King of Catalonia as well as the King of Madrid. His absence (no doubt at the direction of the government) has been noticed. If the King, whose role is to unify a centrifugal country, is not doing that, what’s he good for? This pains me a lot, personally, because (a) I think constitutional monarchies have inherent advantages over republics, specially in places like Spain, the UK (or Italy), which are a combination of historically separate entities; and (b) I personally like him, I think he’s a much better King that his father was in the second half of his reign.

      Everything is in flux. Stay tuned

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      • Yeah the central government behaved absolutely idiotically. All indications were that the No side was going to lose. Why oh why did they need to interfere in the physical voting? They could have invalidated it at the legal level without setting a single police officers foot in Catalonia. The very best thing for them to have happened was a No victory even in an illegal ballot.

        The Monarchy question is an interesting one. No doubt the Kings’ ministers advised him to keep away. I can see the angle on that- whatever side the King came down on the other side would have been outraged. I agree that he should have intervened and pleaded for national unity.

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      • @j_a No need to apologize to me, I wouldn’t even have registered that as cussing.

        Excellent comment, thank you for your thoughts and I look forward to reading more as events unfold. If you want to write a guest post, please be in touch with me, , or Vikram… pretty sure we’d welcome one.

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  3. [Wo7] This is not the first time I’ve heard the “rice is different than wheat (or corn) and the difference influences general cultural attitudes” thesis. I think it’s pretty solid.

    The influence I had heard earlier is that while crops like wheat and corn have a rhythm where there’s a bunch of activity (planting), and quiet period (growing) and then another burst of activity (harvest), rice is quite different. It is more labor intensive, and requires very frequent labor all through the life cycle. And this rhythm is reflected in broader cultures in behaviors such as “study an hour every day” versus “cram for the exam”.

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  4. Saw this paper and thought of . I haven’t read the whole thing carefully, but the gist is that menthol flavored cigarettes are rather bad, and flavored e-cigs are rather good.

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    • Thanks! Great link! There is a degree of consensus around menthol cigarettes (stronger than any on ecigarettes, flavored or otherwise). They’re also a lot more popular, and therefore harder to get rid of. Law enforcement came out against it, fearing a black market. Further complicating things is that they are disproportionately used by African-Americans, which cuts both ways (is banning a favorite flavor of African-Americans racist? Or is is it racist to exempt them from a ban?).

      It’s a mess.

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      • I am depressed that famous people that I remember from when I thought I was still young are dying within spittin’ distance of my age. Get to change insurance providers twice next year — once because the company I am officially retired from is making dramatic changes in my coverage for next year, and then the wife and I will both switch to Medicare over the course of the year. Guess the good news is that this year, having reached an age where they look harder when your blood pressure does erratic things on the high end, tests showed my heart and cardiac arteries are “wonderfully healthy” according to the cardiologist. (Then cheap little white pills restored the BP to sanity.)

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        • I have high cholesterol that just refuses to behave (mom was the same way), so my doctor ordered a cardiac CT to check for plaque build up*. Which resulted in the CT seeing a spot on the part of my lung the cardiac CT scanned. Which resulted in a chest x-ray that was indeterminate, which resulted in a full chest CT, all to find out my lungs are beautiful and the spot was part of a rib.

          *Cardiac CT scored 5 out of 200+, so I’m laying down a bit of plaque, but nothing to worry about right now. We’ll look again in 5 years or so unless my lipids spike hard.

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        • Michael Cain, In the last 12 months three of my running buddies that I have known for over forty years died. One had a heart attack, one had cancer of the colon and the third just got tired of being a hemophiliac.
          There are two others that aren’t dead yet but soon be. One has emphysema so bad that he can’t make it from the kitchen to the living without stopping for air. The other was an extremely bright lady who is now in the later stages of early onset alzheimer’s.

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