While you celebrate Earth Day being green, or whatever it is that people to on Earth Day, read a little about the interesting history of the great day. I especially like the part of how, despite no proof of any ill effects on humans or animals, DDT was banned. Millions of third-worlders have died as a result. But, have no fear, you can still assuage your guilt by raising money for mosquito nets.(Graphic by SooperMexican, click to view full size)
By marfdrat on April 22, 2014
By marfdrat on April 19, 2014
Cool visualization of all the places in the U.S. where nobody lives. Granted, a lot of places where people don’t live are ones where they can’t live, but it’s still cool.
A Block is the smallest area unit used by the U.S. Census Bureau for tabulating statistics. As of the 2010 census, the United States consists of 11,078,300 Census Blocks. Of them, 4,871,270 blocks totaling 4.61 million square kilometers were reported to have no population living inside them. Despite having a population of more than 310 million people, 47 percent of the USA remains unoccupied.
Green shading indicates unoccupied Census Blocks. A single inhabitant is enough to omit a block from shading (click for a larger image)
By marfdrat on April 19, 2014
This kind of thinking is insane, but it fits neatly into the worldview held
by some that the government should be the source of all things to all people. With that view, it’s easy to see why local government functionaries wouldn’t want “unauthorized” personnel giving out food.
With all the restrictions on selling and marketing food, it’s easy to forget that even sharing food is sometimes still a crime. Despite my own stated optimism last year, it appears that bans on sharing food with the homeless and less fortunate won’t be going away any time soon.
Last week, Scott Keyes, a senior reporter with the progressive news site ThinkProgress, reported on the idiotic outcome of one of the latest of such bans.
In that case, the city of Birmingham, Ala. has barred a local pastor from sharing food with the homeless from a church-owned vehicle because he doesn’t have… a food truck permit.
“Wood was stopped from handing out food by local police because he was in violation of a new city ordinance, passed in December, that regulates food trucks,” writes Keyes. “The new regulation requires food trucks to get a permit, which can cost as much as $500.”
Just like those on the left, conservative critics were aghast.
This issue certainly cuts across the normal left-right divide.
“Serving the needy is something we should reward, not criminalize,” Keyes told me by email this week. “And serving the poor in a manner and location that is convenient for many homeless people is especially laudable. Making it more difficult to feed the hungry ignores the fact that poor people exist, and they get hungry like everyone else.”
By marfdrat on April 19, 2014
I can’t say I blame them – I wouldn’t want her there either. The Imperial Mrs. would probably
highjack the occasion to promote some political cause, in addition to effing up the seat allocations.
If expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama’s speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student’s big day.“I’m a single mother who has raised him for 18 years by myself,” said Tina Hernandez, parent of Topeka High School senior Dauby Knight. “I’ve told him education is the only way out. This is one of the biggest days of their lives. They’ve taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn’t know our kids.”
By marfdrat on March 20, 2014
Williams has a way of expressing the profound in the simplest terms possible. The key notion here is Thomas Paine’s statement: “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” It may be necessary, but it has become so big, and so invasive, that it is far from the neutral rule keeper the founders intended.
What kind of rules should govern our lives? I’d argue that the best rules are those that we’d be satisfied with if our very worst enemy were in charge of decision-making. The foundation for such rules was laid out by my mother. Let’s look at it.
My mother worked as a domestic servant. That meant that my younger sister and I often lunched at home by ourselves during our preteen years. Being bigger and stronger than my sister, I seldom divided the food evenly, especially the desserts. After a tiring day at work, Mom would be greeted by sob stories from my sister about my lunchtime injustices. Mom finally became fed up with the sibling hassles. She didn’t admonish me to be more caring, fair, sensitive and considerate. She just made a rule: Whoever cuts the cake pie, bread, meat, etc. allows the other the first selection. With that new rule in place, you can bet that when either my sister or I divided food, it was divided equally.
You say, “That’s a nice story, Williams, but what’s the point?” The point is that the principle underlying Mom’s rule is precisely the kind that is necessary for rules to promote fairness. In general, the rules that we should want are those that promote fairness, whether it’s our best friend or it’s our worst enemy who’s the decision-maker. In the case of Mom’s rule, it didn’t make any difference whether I hated my sister’s guts that day or she hated mine or whether my sister was doing the cutting or I was; there was a just division of the food.
Think for a moment about rules in sports, say basketball. One team loses, and the other wins, but they and their fans leave the stadium peacefully and most often as friends. Why? The game’s outcome is seen as fair because there are fixed, known, neutral rules evenly applied by the referees. The referees’ job is to apply the rules — not determine the game’s outcome. Imagine the chaos and animosity among players and fans if one team paid referees to help it win or the referees were trying to promote some kind of equality among teams.
Billions of dollars and billions of hours are spent campaigning for this or that candidate in our national elections. You can bet that people are not making those expenditures so that politicians will uphold and defend the Constitution; they’re looking for favors. The Constitution’s framers gave us reasonably fair and neutral rules of the game. If our government acted, as the framers intended, as a referee or night watchman, how much difference would it make to any of us who occupies the White House or Congress? It would make little difference, if any. It would be just like our basketball game example. Any government official who knew and enforced the rules would do. But increasingly, who’s in office is making a difference, because government has abandoned its referee and night watchman function and gotten into the business of determining winners and losers. Unfortunately, for our nation, that’s what most Americans want.
Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil.” Our Bill of Rights is an explicit recognition of the Founding Fathers’ distrust of Congress. Just look at its language, with phrases such as “Congress shall not abridge,” “shall not infringe,” “shall not deny,” “disparage” and “violate.” If the framers did not believe that Congress would abuse our God-given, or natural, rights, they would not have used such language. If, after we die, we see anything like the Bill of Rights at our next destination, we’ll know that we’re in hell. To demand such protections in heaven would be the same as saying we can’t trust God.
By marfdrat on March 17, 2014
I used to love The Weather Channel. Every day it was the first thing I turned on when I get ready for work. I loved the “local on the 8′s” because I was sure I’d see the local forecast at least once while I was getting ready.
When NBC first bought TWC, they dumped all the on-air talent that had been with the channel for a long time. They’ve replaced them with Barbie and Ken-type “personalities”, some of which are pretty good. Others, like Stephanie Abrams and Jen Carfagno, make me cringe every time I see them trying to be cool and relevant. Spare me. I just want the weather.
Today, I turn on TWC to get news of the latest snowstorm in Virginia, and what do I see? Sam Champion (some other network’s long time weather retread) and two other dim bulbs chatting it up about YouTube videos or some other pop-culture idiocy. Torture. Just give me the guys and gals talking about the seven day forecast, and all the nuances of THE WEATHER, and leave all the pop culture BS to those three (or four, which is it? I don’t care) networks that have been doing it for years.
Thanks, TWC. Now I have to find something else to tune in to in the morning. I guess there’s still ESPN.
By marfdrat on March 11, 2014
This is a fantastic kinetic sculpture by Chris Burden that pushes 100,000 toy cars per hour around a huge motorized set of tracks. It’s on view at the Los Angeles Museum of Art. From the museum’s website:
Chris Burden’s Metropolis II is an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one six lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars produce in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city.”
By marfdrat on March 8, 2014
There’s a group of people who come here looking for…something. It has gotten smaller of late, and I’m having a hard time spending the time to find stuff to pass on, or about which to opine. It has gone on for a while now. There’s plenty of stuff to talk about, but I don’t have much of anything to say. I still get pissed off or care passionately about the stuff that I started this little soapbox for, and I yell about it from my even smaller soapbox in my own house, but they only want to hear so much before they tune me out.
It may have something to do with the death of my daughter-in-law back in January. She was 26, and was diagnosed with cancer only 9 months before. She and my son had been married for 15 months. Total. I sat down and prepared some notes to write about that back in early February, but I haven’t yet been able to put it to paper yet. I don’t’ really want to, because it will lend a certain finality to that truth.
Anyway, if you come here looking for stuff and don’t find anything new, I apologize. I may get my groove back in the next couple of weeks – or, I may not. I might switch to blogging about something else entirely. Or I might just quit. Economics and politics these days is mostly a lot of stuff to yell about, and nothing positive to say. Or maybe it just seems that way. I still find a lot of interesting things that I think others would find interesting too, so maybe that’s where I’ll focus.