Saturday, November 1, 2014

Being shot is a nutritional supplement

In a news item from Michigan Radio (meaning it isn't a story and not online) there was the comment of another use of Michigan's Emergency Manager law. That law allows the state take over control of a city that has scary finances. The elected officials are moved aside and the EM has free rein to do whatever it takes to make the city's budget balance with manageable debt, including forcing new contracts on unionized city employees. A lot of Michigan residents decry the law because for the duration of the EM's work the city is not run by elected leaders – democracy is usurped. It is probably no coincidence that nearly all cities that have had an EM are majority black, so there is an element of racism too.

Back to the most recent comment about the EM. Residents, most of whom are black, voted, then found their vote was made meaningless through the EM. So they get used to the idea that it isn't worth the bother to vote at all. And the GOP prevents another minority person from voting.

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention has denounced ex-gay therapy, the effort to supposedly help gay people become straight. It is good to see they consider such therapy to be useless and harmful. So, yeah, if you're gay you're going to remain gay. But that doesn't mean the SBC has changed any other aspect of their view of gay people. If you're gay you still had better remain celibate.

Of course, the GOP doesn't like anything Obama proposes, and they do it just because. The latest incident: Obama appointed an Ebola Czar, who isn't a doctor. GOP House member Jason Chaffetz ranted why doesn't the Surgeon General be the head of the Ebola response? The answer to that is rather simple. At the moment the office of Surgeon General is empty. Obama nominated someone. But that someone suggested that being shot by a gun would be bad for a person's health. The NRA had a fit. Apparently they think being shot is a nutritional supplement. Nah, the GOP doesn't intend to actually govern.

A couple maps give a sense of world population and how it is distributed. One was created in 2004 and projected population in 2005. The second was created this year projecting population for next year. Both maps are built on a grid with each square of the grid representing a million people. So, yes, in this year's map China fills 1306 squares and India fills 1060 squares. In contrast, USA fills 322 squares and Canada fills a thin strip of 35 squares. In Africa Nigeria pops out with 184 squares.

A professor and grad student at University of Southern California wanted to see if politicians acted on biases. They sent emails to over 1800 legislators across the country asking what kind of documentation was needed when voting. Some letters were signed with Anglo names, some with Latino names. The difference in response rates wasn't between Dem and GOP lawmakers, but between GOP lawmakers who did or didn't sponsor voter ID laws. And the gap was huge. To put the study in context, it is reasonable to say the lawmakers who sponsored voter ID laws are biased. It is not proven that the bias prompted the sponsorship of such laws.

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