Thursday, October 20, 2016
Laughing out loud at this one from Wirecutter.
Yep. That's farm kids all right, anywhere in the world. I've been highly amused to find American farm kids behave just the same as African farm kids. They all have the same acceptance of nature and the real world, and lack false sentimentality. Salt of the earth - and naughty with it!
I'm obliged to Charles Hugh Smith for reprinting the observations of an Australian reader about a recent extended power failure down under. Here's an excerpt.
It was a fascinating opportunity to observe firsthand what happens when an electricity dependent society and economy has an extended and complete loss of electrical grid and communications.
Key observations for my local area are:
1. Many people have small petrol generators thanks to our lovely coastal wilderness and a preoccupation with Glamping (Glam Camping).
2. Very few people had a store of petrol at home more than 5 to 10 litres [1.3 to 2.6 US gallons]. (usually kept for use in lawn mowers, brush cutters, chainsaws). Some owners of small boats had up to 20 litres [5.3 US gallons] on hand.
3. When the electricity goes out ... the pumps at fuel stations don't work. To my great surprise, only 1 fuel station in my nearest city of about 14 000 population had (or quickly acquired) a back-up generator to work their fuel pumps. There was a 3 hour wait for customers to get from back of queue to the pumps ... and a ridiculous show of 'bulk buying' where people didn't just take fuel that they personally needed; they showed up with between 3 and 8 X 20 litre (5 gallon) fuel cans as well as filling their cars. Hopefully the canned fuel was distributed among family and friends. (My assertion is that the owners of the station should have rationed fuel to 40 litres per customer to keep the que moving faster and to make sure everyone had some, rather than creating an 'all or nothing' situation.)
. . .
6. The full loss of grid, grid back-up and other smaller backups caused telecommunications and data transmission to practically cease. This meant limitations of EFTPOS in stores. Banks were shut, ATM's didn't work and some shops that were open could only take cash. Generally though, everyone muddled through the sketchy electronic payment systems one way or another. Internet access failed for the most part. Social media pretty much collapsed ... my two daughters though their social lives were over. I didn't miss it. My wife found more time to do other things too.
There's more at the link.
Highly recommended reading for everyone who routinely prepares for emergencies (as we all should). There's good information there.
This advertisement for Armstrong beer was made by an agency in Cape Town, South Africa, so I presume the beer is also South African. The agency has tried to put a men-scared-of-women-but-outsmarting-them twist on the consumption of beer, but it falls flat for anyone who knows Africa. If African women in typical African society tried to stop their men consuming beer, they might just get beaten flatter than a pancake! Patriarchy is alive and well there.
Still, it's an amusing advertisement - to me, all the more so because of its inherent contradictions.
I've never tasted the stuff myself - it wasn't on the market when I left South Africa two decades ago. I drank Windhoek, Amstel or Castle Lager, or Hansa Pilsener. Old hands from that part of the world will doubtless join me in salivating at the memory of a long, cold one (or two, or three) after a hot day in the African sun.
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
We do the washing, drying, sorting, folding, and so on. Ashbutt helps us by looking decorative.
He also attacks every bit of laundry whenever it's moved. When we try to salvage it from his claws, he looks injured, as if to say, "Well, what else did you expect when you adopted a kitten?"
All right, readers! Put on your thinking caps and let's nail this challenge!
Malaysia’s dog days are over.
Hot dog sellers in the predominantly Muslim nation were ordered to rename their products to avoid any “confusion” because in Islam, pooches “are considered unclean,” government officials decreed.
. . .
Halal is the Arabic word for “permissible” and, when related to food, means grub that is acceptable for consumption under Islamic law.
American pretzel chain Auntie Anne’s, which has 45 outposts in Malaysia, was told Monday by Islamic authorities to rename its “Pretzel Dog” menu item.
Suhaimee said it’s more appropriate to call the snack a “pretzel sausage” in order to receive halal certification, according to local media.
There's more at the link.
Between all of us, I'm sure we can come up with all sorts of helpful, religiously correct suggestions as to what Malaysia should call its hot dogs. How about it, readers? I'll start the ball rolling:
- Infidel Worm
- Do Your Wurst
- Hot Diggety Piggety
Submit your suggestions on a hot dog roll (or electronically, if you prefer) in Comments below. Have at it!
I hadn't previously thought of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet naval strike fighter as being particularly maneuverable, or particularly good at aerial dogfighting. However, this demonstration by an F/A-18F (the two-seat variant), fully loaded with 8 air-to-air missiles, is pretty convincing. As the pilot points out, it's like flying with a big SUV strapped beneath the aircraft; yet it handles the weight with ease, and he's able to throw it around in cavalier fashion.
Watch the video in full-screen mode for best results.
I'd still put money on an F-15E Strike Eagle to outmaneuver the Super Hornet, but given top-notch pilots in both planes, it'd be a close-run thing.
Via Rev. Paul, quoting from a Facebook post discussing Federation starships in the 'Star Trek' movies and TV series:
They can pull an effectively unlimited number of bull**** space-magic countermeasures out of their arses - but they're as likely as not to give themselves a lethal five-dimensional wedgie in the process.
Uh . . . OK . . . if you say so!
I really must try to figure out how to incorporate 'a lethal five-dimensional wedgie' in my next SF novel . . .
James O'Keefe has done all of us a public service with his videos revealing the extent to which the Democratic Party relies on vote rigging to elect its members. They're all over the Internet now, but in case you missed them, here they are. The second video is perhaps more important than the first.
Both are extremely important to anyone valuing American democracy and our republican way of life (not to mention the values embodied in our Constitution). Essential viewing, IMHO. I think Mr. O'Keefe's promised follow-up videos at the Project Veritas Action channel on YouTube will be worth watching, too.
Of course, this should come as no surprise; but many elements in the mainstream media have conspired to cover up or dismiss the issue for years. One of the most telling exposés came from the Pew Center on the States in 2012.
More than 24 million voter-registration records in the United States— about one in eight — are inaccurate, out-of-date or duplicates. Nearly 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and perhaps 1.8 million registered voters are dead.
Those estimates, from a report published today by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States, portray a largely paper-based system that is outmoded, expensive and error-prone.
"We have a ramshackle registration system in the U.S. It's a mess. It's expensive. There isn't central control over the process," said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
. . .
The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the "motor voter" law, made it easier for people to register to vote by, for example, allowing them to register when they get a state driver's license.
That same law also made it more difficult to remove someone from the voting rolls. Unless officials have a death certificate or written confirmation from the voter that they've moved, a voter must miss two presidential elections — that's eight years — before they can be removed.
The problem is particularly bad in swing states, where parties, campaigns and others canvass the state registering voters, even if they're already registered, and often collecting inaccurate information, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said. "Everybody's registering you here," he said. "We don't really have control of that."
There's more at the link.
Many (particularly Democratic Party officials and supporters) insist that just because voter rolls contain inaccuracies, that's not in itself evidence of voter fraud. They're correct, of course; but those inaccuracies make it easier for voter fraud to occur, and the wealth of information coming out of this year's election campaign suggests that it is, indeed, occurring. Consider just these few recent articles:
- 'Indiana Investigating Possible Voter Fraud After Thousands of Names Changed';
- 'Voter Fraud Is Real. Here’s The Proof'
- 'No, voter fraud isn’t a myth: 10 cases where it’s all too real'
The real question is whether the 'margin of cheat' will be sufficient to affect the results of this year's elections. Historically, that does appear to have happened from time to time (for example, it's widely believed to have been behind the election of John F. Kennedy as President in 1960). Will it happen this year? Given Mr. O'Keefe's damning video evidence, I won't be surprised if it does. As I posted yesterday, there's evidence that it's already occurring.
What, if anything, will the American people do about it? I guess that remains to be seen. I think there are enough people who are very unhappy with the present system that it may lead to a groundswell of very active resentment . . . but no-one can say for sure right now.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Today's award goes jointly to the Environmental
When farmers plow their land, it produces grooves called "furrows," bordered by small ridges of dirt.
But in pursuit of new regulatory powers, federal agencies refer to the little dirt mounds by another term: “mini mountain ranges.” That seemingly absurd distinction is being used to impose more federal control over private land use decisions made by U.S. farmers.
. . .
The [proposed] rule, called “Waters of the United States” ... would allow puddles, tire ruts and standing water to be labeled “disturbed wetlands” and regulated under the Clean Water Act. The Senate committee report states the rule would allow EPA to get around legal limits to its authority over ditches, draws, low areas, or other wet areas by simply calling them a “regulated tributary” or “wetland.”
The report concludes that if the EPA and Corps interpretations were allowed, “most if not all plowing” would be considered a “discharge of a pollutant” and require a federal permit.
There's more at the link.
Trees. Rope. Bureaucrats. Some assembly required.
Our new farm kitten, Smoky in polite company (but Ashbutt to family), is having the time of his life settling in to his new home. Shy and retiring, he ain't!
We've always fed our cat the best food we can afford, regarding it as an investment in her health and happiness. Now that we have to feed two cats, we naturally looked to see what that brand offered. They have a 'Cat & Kitten' food that seemed promising, so we ordered a bag. (Hint: their prices for smaller bags are often much higher, pound for pound, than their larger bags. It pays to look at all the sizes they offer, compare the price per pound, and buy accordingly.)
Our adult cat, Kili, was quite happy to make the switch; but Ashbutt, the kitten, who'd been used to cheap barn cat food, was ecstatic. He's growing almost by the day, his fur is longer and sleeker than ever, and he has so much energy we're seriously considering whether we made a mistake in buying that high-quality food for him! Kili is seriously discombobulated by having a rambunctious kitten underfoot at every possible opportunity, and still hisses at him; but she's tolerating him closer to her all the time. I give it a couple of weeks before she starts playing with him.
Ashbutt has taken to plastic-coated springs with enormous enthusiasm, regarding them as needing to be killed at every possible opportunity.
He also attacks the broom when we sweep the floor, clinging to it and biting it furiously (ignoring the dust bunnies that get attached to his fur). As for one of us passing the sofa when he's lying on it, that's an invitation for him to jump on us; and when we go to bed, it's less to sleep than to share an exciting kitty adventure! He's having the time of his life. Miss D. finds it a bit exhausting, but I must confess, I'm enjoying his sheer, overflowing joie de vivre.
I'm glad we brought Ashbutt home from Blogorado. He's helping to keep us young.
It looks as if shady lawyers are at it again - this time manufacturing 'court orders' that don't hold up to scrutiny.
There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile:
- All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.)
- All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).
Now, you might ask, what’s the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction?
- Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants — but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights & Investigations) couldn’t find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.
The answer is that Google and various other Internet platforms have a policy: They won’t take down material (or, in Google’s case, remove it from Google indexes) just because someone says it’s defamatory. Understandable — why would these companies want to adjudicate such factual disputes? But if they see a court order that declares that some material is defamatory, they tend to take down or deindex the material, relying on the court’s decision.
Yet the trouble is that these Internet platforms can’t really know if the injunction was issued against the actual author of the supposed defamation — or against a real person at all. That’s why we have incidents like this:
- Matthew Chan, a Georgia resident, posts a negative review of Mitul Patel, a Georgia dentist, on Yelp and a few other sites. (Readers may remember this story, which we blogged about in August; that’s the incident that got us investigating this issue.) Several months after Chan puts up his post, Yelp emails him, saying that it’s about to take his comment down because it received a court order that was issued against him, and the court concluded that his comment was defamatory.But wait!, says Chan — he’s never been sued. And sure enough, the order is against a supposed Mathew Chan of Baltimore. As best we can tell, no such Mathew Chan exists in Baltimore, but in any event no Baltimorean is the author of the post. Yet the order is supposedly based on that Mathew Chan agreeing with Mitul Patel that the review was defamatory, and should be removed. (As we’ll see below, Mitul Patel and some of the other plaintiffs state that they did not authorize the lawsuit or sign the pleadings, though they did hire a “reputation management company” to do something.)
There's more at the link.
It looks like so-called 'relationship management' or 'relationship repair' self-advertised specialists have come up with this tactic. Lodge a lawsuit against a possibly imaginary 'defendant' alleging that an article or other reference is defamatory; have the defendant (or someone claiming to be the defendant) immediately acknowledge that it is defamatory, and agree to accept a court order for its withdrawal; have the court order issued; then use it to persuade the host to take down the article, and Google and other authoritative search engines to de-index the offending reference, so that no-one else can find it. Crafty bastards, aren't they?
Congratulations to Messrs. Volokh and Levy for publishing details of this scheme, so that the rest of us can be on our guard against it. Now, how can we make the shady lawyers concerned answer for their misuse (probably better termed abuse) of the court system?
So much for voter fraud being a figment of our imaginations . . . Go read about the experience of a Florida blogger.
That's just in one city, in one state. I've heard of more examples from several other states. Voter fraud is widespread, it's going on right now, and it may be enough to provide the 'margin of cheat' to ensure the outcome of this election, regardless of the will of the people.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Yesterday I wrote an article titled 'Cities, what they do to people, and the 2016 elections'. I pointed out that the election would be won in the cities, where voters are concentrated, and where they think differently from rural and town-dwellers.
I'd like to follow that up with some cogent thoughts from Victor Davis Hanson.
But what, exactly, causes city and country people to become so opposite politically, culturally, and socially?
Rural living historically has encouraged independence—and it still does, even in the globalized and wired twenty-first century. Other people aren’t always around to ensure that water gets delivered (and drained), sewage disappears, and snow is removed. For the vast majority of Americans, these and other concerns are the jobs of government bureaucracy and its unionized public workforce. Not so in rural areas, where autonomy and autarky—not narrow specialization—are necessary and fueled by an understanding that machines and tools must be mastered to keep nature in its proper place. Such constant preparedness nurtures skeptical views about the role and size of government, in which the good citizen is defined as someone who can take care of himself.
Note how the urban ideal tends to be just the opposite. Looking to cement his lead among urban unmarried women during his 2012 reelection campaign, Barack Obama ran an interactive web ad, “The Life of Julia.” Its dependency narrative defined the life of an everywoman character as one of cradle-to-grave government reliance—a desirable thing. Julia is proudly and perennially a ward of the state. She can get through school only thanks to Head Start and federally backed student loans. Only the Small Business Administration and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act enable her to find work. Though unmarried, Julia has one child—but no health-care worries, thanks to Obamacare. And in her retirement years, only Social Security and Medicare allow her security, comfort, and the time and wherewithal to volunteer for a communal urban garden, apparently a hobby rather than a critical food source. The subtext of Obama’s message was the assumption of a demographically shrinking, urbanized country, where liberated women find parity only through government dependence. The president was not appealing, as some of his predecessors did, to a confident young married woman who, along with her husband, was struggling to make a family business in farm equipment while raising four kids and saving to build a ranch house on three acres.
. . .
Most current hot-button social and political issues—deficit spending, defense, gay marriage, transgendered restrooms, amnesty, sanctuary cities, affirmative action, gun control, and abortion—break along rural or urban lines. For rural residents, existential issues on the national level are seen in the same way as personal, physical considerations: Will the country go broke? Is its currency any good? Does it have enough food, fuel, and minerals? Can America defend itself, protect its friends, and punish its enemies?
These concerns differ markedly from the urbanite’s worry about whether the government will provide services to take care of apartment dwellers or whether those of different races, tribes, and religions can get along in such a crowded environment.
. . .
Simply put, too many urban Americans have lots of time on their hands—and in this regard, the deterioration in race relations is largely a city phenomenon. The rural dweller looks at the nocturnal marching and chanting of Black Lives Matter and wonders, “Do the protesters have to be up at 5 AM to get things going?” Nothing is stranger than watching or listening to elite urban white journalists and academics confessing their white privilege to fellow black elites and equally privileged intellectuals—while both groups seem oblivious to class distinctions or to rural white poverty. Does a Cornel West or Chris Rock go to Appalachia or Bakersfield to lecture the white mechanic on why he has it made because of his white skin?
The cursus honorum of the elite that runs the country in politics, finance, journalism, and academia is urban to the core—degrees from brand-name universities, internships at well-connected agencies, residence in New York or Washington, power marriages. The power résumé does not include mechanical apprenticeships, work on ships or oil rigs, knowledge of firearms, or farm, logging, or mining labor—jobs now regulated and overseen by those with little experience of them.
There's much more at the link. It's well worth reading in full.
The mainstream media, in defining the terms of the current political debate, are minimizing the importance of issues that are critical to non-city-dwellers.
- Illegal immigration? Trump caught a lot of people's attention with his talk of a wall along the southern border. It's critically important to the ranchers living along that border, who daily go in fear of the veritable invasion of criminals and ne'er-do-wells that threatens to overwhelm them. However, it's of no importance to the urban establishment - so the media largely ignores it (or mocks the very idea).
- Military service? According to the Washington Post, in 2005 more than 44% of recruits came from rural areas, but only about 14% from major cities. More recent research seems to indicate little change in this pattern. The self-reliant, more independent outlook on life found in rural and small-town America seems to fit the mold of service to others, even at risk of one's own life, much better than the self-centered, cocooned lifestyle of the cities. Is this why the mainstream media often portray military personnel, particularly veterans, in a negative light?
- Qualifications? Look at the breakdown of our present Congress and Senate. The overwhelmingly dominant qualification or prior career of our political representatives is that of lawyer. Career politicians and former government employees are also right up there in the lists. These are urban, not rural occupations. These are people who've mostly never actually produced anything by the work of their hands or the sweat of their brows. Most of them would probably regard manual laborers as their inferiors. How many engineers, technicians, farmers, former military and the like do you see in the ranks of our representatives? Precious few. The preoccupations of the mainstream media (and the ranks of its journalists) reflect that disproportionate imbalance.
All this is inevitably shaping and forming the current political debate. It makes Donald Trump's task much more difficult, while making that of Hillary Clinton much easier. Increasingly, it's clear that the results of this election will depend very much on turnout. If Donald Trump can persuade a large majority of his supporters to vote, but Hillary Clinton can't get many of hers to the polls, this will help to level the playing field. However, if the situation is reversed, Trump's prospects plummet.
This is where the mainstream media's tactics may backfire on it. It's clear the media want to persuade the American electorate that the election's all but decided already. See, for example, this morning's Washington Post screed. It's designed to encourage Clinton's supporters and discourage Trump's. If the latter can be persuaded not to bother to vote, because there's no point, it makes Clinton's path to victory much easier. However, what if Clinton's supporters conclude that since she's certain to win, they don't need to bother to vote? And what if Trump can mobilize his supporters to ignore the media propaganda, get to the polls in large numbers, and vote for him?
I remain convinced that if Clinton wins, this Republic cannot survive in its present form. She and her urban elite supporters have already all but trashed our Constitution, blatantly selling themselves and their public offices to the highest bidder. If they win again, they'll trample underfoot what remains of our nation. We'll be swamped by illegal aliens, many of whom will vote (illegally or not) for the party that promises them the biggest handouts. If our Republic and Constitution are to be preserved, I fear this election may be the final opportunity to do so via the ballot box.
Sunday, October 16, 2016
. . . that I mentioned in a post two days ago: it's been played beside a genuine Stradivarius instrument. From the video's home page:
The ‘3Dvarius VS Stradivarius’ video is a musical duet between Pauline Henric, a classical violinist and Laurent Bernadac, an electric violinist. The song is a Laurent Bernadac’s composition.
This video was shot in the Roman Theatre of Orange in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur near to Avignon and Marseille (South of France). The Roman Theatre of Orange is without doubt one of the finest remnants of the Roman Empire. Exceptional evidence of Ancient Rome and part of the UNESCO World Heritage list, it is the best preserved theatre in Europe. Special thanks to M. Michael Couzigou, director of the theatre, and Frédéric Sabatier, stage manager for their precious help.
The comparison is fascinating.
Great playing from both musicians.
I was struck by a short video produced for the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations University, and publicized by The Intercept. It examines the future of cities from the perspective of military operations, but I think its implications go far beyond that. Let's watch it first - it's only five minutes long - then take the discussion further. Watch it in full-screen mode for best results.
Finished? Then let's continue.
What struck me about this video isn't just how cities will continue to grow in future, but what cities have already done to those who live in them. They've changed the attitude of their residents, the way they see and understand and experience the world. City-dwellers are all but cut off from many of the basic realities of our lives, such as the production of food and natural resources, power generation, even weather as a factor in everyday life. Let's take a few examples.
- Food, to them, isn't something that comes from farms; crops grown over a period of weeks or months in fields, animals raised for slaughter, etc. Instead, it comes from supermarkets, or the corner store, or fast-food carts lining the streets. I've personally encountered young people who've never made the connection between the piece of meat they've just bought, and a living, breathing creature that was slaughtered to provide it. In one case, the person concerned burst into tears at the thought that an animal had died to provide her meal - and this was a woman who'd be considered educated, with a university degree. In contrast, rural dwellers see their food being produced all around them, and understand it as a basic, fundamental act of life to do so.
- Weather isn't something that really affects a city-dweller's life except when it's extreme, like a hurricane or tornado. A city-dweller can move from home to work and back again cocooned in weather-proof transportation (bus or taxi or train, above or under ground, etc.), only momentarily inconvenienced by the need to use an umbrella during the transition between transport and a building or vice versa. For rural dwellers, on the other hand, weather is a vital aspect of life, defining whether they'll be able to make a living this year or not because of its impact on farming and mining operations (and every business associated with them). A storm that floods the underground railway system in a city, causing a week or two of temporary transportation inconvenience, may wipe out a pit mine, or flood farms and destroy a season's crops, thereby inflicting poverty and deprivation on entire communities for years.
- The interconnectedness of life isn't something that necessarily occurs to city-dwellers. They can exist in a personal 'bubble', where their interactions with other people, places, etc. is governed by the circumstances of their lives. They can choose whether or not to interact, and can limit themselves to their own circles. Rural dwellers, on the other hand, understand that if a farmer goes broke, a seed merchant and a farm machinery supplier and a local store and other institutions will be directly affected by that. They understand that the 'ripple effect' of commerce and industry on each other is a real, vital, living thing, and they take seriously anything that affects one part of the chain, because all links are only as strong as the weakest one. There's far more solidarity in rural communities than in urban ones, in my experience.
I could go on, but I think the point is made. Big-city life is, to a large extent, artificial, a construct derived from its surroundings - surroundings which are cut off from the basic cycles of nature, food and resource production, and so on. Inevitably, of course, that isolation from such things produces an outlook on life that both expresses, and further changes, the urban environment. A classic example is so-called 'cultural Marxism'. I've met very few rural dwellers who would give even a moment's thought to such nonsense, let alone devote time and attention to analyzing it. It's so far from their lived reality that it would be pointless to do so. On the other hand, urban academic elites see no problem in doing so, because they aren't rooted in the lived realities of rural life. They've cocooned themselves in an artificial environment where such speculation has little or no real-world connotation. As a result, they fail to recognize that its social application may have real-world consequences.
Basically, city dwellers see life, the universe and everything through the artificial spectacles of their urban environment. They don't think about, or take into consideration, the fact that their perspective is rooted in and grounded on an environment that is, in many cases, divorced from reality and built upon theoretical constructs that fail to recognize their dependence on reality. When reality intrudes, the artificial urban environment comes crashing down around their ears. A few recent examples:
- New York City blackout, 1977. A power failure plunged the city into chaos. One of the most noteworthy features of this incident was the speed with which civil order deteriorated into anarchy - a matter of hours only. It didn't last long, because power was swiftly restored . . . but what if it had lasted longer? There's a very good hour-long BBC audio documentary about the incident on YouTube. I highly recommend it as a graphic illustration of how bad things can get in an incredibly short time.
- The siege of Sarajevo, 1992-1996. A survivor's comments on that long-running tragedy have circulated widely on the Internet. I urge you to read them in full. They describe what happened when one of the most 'civilized' cities in Europe - one that had hosted the Winter Olympic Games less than a decade earlier - descended, in a matter of days, into a dystopian nightmare that lasted for years.
- Hurricane Katrina, 2005. This had a profound impact on the city of New Orleans. The Wikipedia article to which I've linked is largely 'sanitized', leaving out many of the nastier details of what happened there. I've written about some of them from my personal experience of that disaster - you can read my reflections here. It was a grim picture of destruction, not just of the physical fabric of the city but of its social infrastructure as well. It's still not fully recovered.
- EBT system failure, 2013. In October 2013, a computer system outage took down the EBT (welfare) card system in 13 states, preventing recipients from buying food. Widespread outrage resulted, including riots in Louisiana where EBT recipients abused the system and the generosity of one supermarket chain by buying as much as they could, without respecting the limits on their cards. (Some were later penalized for this theft.) This was a relatively minor, short-lived problem, but if it had continued, many believe widespread social unrest, even riots, might have resulted. (For that matter, cities have very small reserves of food. If the supply of food should be cut off for any reason - weather, unrest, transport disruption, whatever - they would rapidly starve.)
I could cite many more examples, but I think the above suffice to illustrate how quickly things can descend from order into chaos. I don't think the same thing would happen to the same extent in more rural communities, or in smaller cities and towns where more people know those around them. The social networks in such communities are much stronger, and their self-reliance is too. They know that Mother Nature is going to do her own thing, no matter what we may want, and they have to be prepared to survive that. They know that if trouble comes, they have to heed Benjamin Franklin's warning (delivered in a different context): "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Certainly, if urban unrest were to spill over into the smaller town where I now live, I can guarantee you it wouldn't last long - and it wouldn't take police to stop the riots, either. The citizens of this community would do so themselves, by whatever means necessary.
What does this have to do with elections? A great deal. We've spoken ad nauseam about the difference between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Overwhelmingly, the former are city dwellers. Not so overwhelmingly, but predominantly, the latter live in smaller cities and towns and rural areas, where the 'citification' of society and the globalization of the economy have wrought the most damage. There's a divide in the electorate that mirrors the divide in where people live and work, and their consequent experience of life. This is illustrated by a comment to an earlier post on this blog:
I'm about halfway between Akron and Cleveland [in Ohio], and there's very few people that I've talked to who are voting for [Hillary].
Got a couple nieces in college at Kent State - the whole area is one giant Hillary sign.
Out in the countryside, away from the big cities, all I see are Trump signs, very, very few signs supporting [Hillary].
I've traveled around the state quite a bit over the past couple weeks, I-77 to Coshocton, out I-90 to Ashtabula county, also been to Ashland, Richland, Medina, Wayne, Morrow, Crawford, Marion,and Huron counties - plus some other mostly rural areas.
Went through Columbus - infested with Hillary signs. People in the restaurants we ate at - one on the way down, another on our way back home, were all putting Trump down, believing all the recent sexual harassment claims etc.
Seems like all the college towns are for [Hillary] - as expected - and in the wealthy 'burbs, there were plenty of Hillary signs. Once you get in the truly wealthy areas - we saw [no] political signs at all.
This is why Donald Trump has an uphill path to the Presidency. For convenience, let's say that 40% of likely voters currently live in rural and small-town America, and 60% in city and mega-city America. If Trump obtains two-thirds to three-quarters of the rural and small-town vote - let's say 70% for convenience - that still gives him only 28% of the national vote. He'll have to win at least a third of the city and mega-city vote - where his support is much lower - to make up the difference. On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton obtains 70% of the city and mega-city vote, where she enjoys dominant support, that will already give her 42% of the national vote. The remaining 30% of the rural and small-town vote, representing only 12% of the national vote, will be more than enough to put her 'over the top' and give her victory. (Yes, I know the US electoral college system complicates matters, but I'm trying to put the argument in simple terms here. Bear with me.)
Rural and small-town America has long felt that it's being disenfranchised by the domination of elections by city voters. The truth is, that's exactly what's happening. The Atlantic provided an excellent summation of the situation after the 2012 elections. It further noted: "The voting data suggest that people don't make cities liberal -- cities make people liberal." That tends to bear out my hypothesis above. The situation has only gotten worse since 2012. That reality makes a possible victory for Mr. Trump extraordinarily difficult in 2016. I don't say it's impossible, but it will probably take the equivalent of an electoral miracle for it to happen. We'll see.
The surprising thing, of course, is that Donald Trump was raised in, and lives in, the same city and mega-city environment where Hillary Clinton enjoys majority support. What made him turn out differently? Is he actually different, or is his campaign a political Trojan horse? It's a fascinating question . . . but one for a different post.