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August 22, 2014

white people

So I don't know if we're technically in the aftermath of Ferguson (I've a feeling that people in Ferguson would argue that we're not there yet), but no doubt you've seen the spate of stories concerning the gulf between black and white perceptions of the situation and race and all that.

Of all of the thousands of words, I was struck most by this passage from a NY Times story:

In interview after interview, people spoke of white flight from personal experience, ticking off their moves from neighborhood to neighborhood across the northern part of the county as if escaping a flood.

"They always want to stir up to trouble, the blacks," said David Goad, 64, a retired movie projector operator who lives in a neighborhood bordering Ferguson. "I grew up around blacks, so I know how they are," he said. "That's why we had to get out in 1962, because it was getting so bad."

Okay, I get it that race is still an issue in 2014 and another couple decades of dealing with this are needed for us to get in a relatively good place on this, but the fact that a dude would say that out loud to an identified reporter is something that blows my mind.

Yes, I do know people who believe exactly the same thing, but they are aware enough of the unpopularity (though many would blame 'political correctness') that they would never ever say something like that in front of strangers.

So basically we're stuck in 1972.  Save us Archie Bunker!

Posted by mrbrent at 10:08 AM

August 20, 2014

man-made earthquakes is now a thing

This is odd.

So the one aspect of the controversy over fracking that I've been paying particular attention to has been the unintended consequence of earthquakes.  Burning tap water is fun and all that, but earthquakes, that's something else.  And my impression has been, much like with climate change, that opponents to fracking (present!) are maybe jumping ahead of the science of the issue, and proponents of fracking (oil companies and stupid people) absolutely deny the causal relation no matter what the research says.  So I say, "How many earthquakes is too many earthquakes?" and they respond, "You're a Communist."

So it was a bit of a shock to see this AP article run without so much as a ripple of attention.  This article, you see, is premised on research alleging that fracking earthquakes are not so bad:

Man-made earthquakes, a side effect of some high-tech energy drilling, cause less shaking and in general are about 16 times weaker than natural earthquakes with the same magnitude, a new federal study found.

People feeling the ground move from induced quakes -- those that are not natural, but triggered by injections of wastewater deep underground-- report significantly less shaking than those who experience more normal earthquakes of the same magnitude, according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Susan Hough.

A novel argument I guess, and a nearly-direct answer to How many earthquakes are too many earthquakes — three or four, I guess.

But use of the term 'man-made earthquakes' (by the Associated Press, not exactly a bunch of screaming Lefties) means that the fact that fracking causes earthquakes is settled, which is a thing that I did not know happened.

But I'll take it as a small victory.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:41 AM

August 18, 2014


So there's a fascinating thing going on, and I'm wracking my brain to remember if anything like this has ever happened before: we are in the midst of something like Horror Fatigue.

As in, there are so many giant bad dollops of news out there — we've covered this ground before, and seemingly it's about all I can write about these days — that there's room for nothing else.  And each day brings at least one and sometimes multiple outrages/sadnesses and you just start after a while to feel punch drunk.  Giddy, even, though not like you're making jokes like you used to, because it feels like a betrayal of the enormity of the circumstance.

I'm not whining!  If anything there's a novelty to it.  And of course we've been stunned into numbness before, with 9/11 being the obvious example.

But if 9/11 was one horse-sized duck, this summer is the summer of a hundred duck-sized horses.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:50 AM