Saturday, January 3, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 8

When Red Doesn't Mean Stop
Reluctantly, the city released its study of red light cameras this week. The findings are mixed, but they certainly do not support the city's contention that red light cameras are reducing accidents. According to KTRK's political blog:
The study not only did not show that crashes went down, but in some cases, especially with the crashes that go the other direction, the crashes went up.
The city is putting a different spin on this:

Rice University Professor Bob Stein supervised the study."What we suspect happened is that collisions have suddenly increased in the city and all that the red light camera program has done is, at those intersections at those approaches that were cameraed, it simply stopped or slowed the growth," he said. Stein says researchers believe crashes in the city have increased as population has grown and the cameras have been an effective tool at controlling the number of crashes. [emphasis added]
It's nice that Professor Stein and the people paying him have "suspicions" and "beliefs", but city policy should rely on facts. Interestingly, while "suspecting" that population growth accounts for the increase in collisions, Professor Stein cites no evidence to support his contention. The Mayor has been adamant about installing red light cameras, and apparently if the facts won't support him, he'll just find someone to toss out arbitrary claims.

Murders by Blacks Increase
The Chronicle reports that Houston is leading the nation in murders by and of black youths:
Focusing on the period between 2000-01 and 2006-07, the study found Houston at the top of a list of 28 U.S. cities, with a 139 percent increase in the number of young African-Americans suspected in killings.

In 2006-07, 129 young black men were murdered in the city, up from 42 in 2000-01.

For decades, black activists have blamed everyone but the black community for every ill, both real and imagined, that impacts blacks. At least for now, that might change:

Houston community activist Quanell X called the study a "blanket indictment of the city and government officials in the city and a greater indictment of ministers and political leaders of the African-American community."

He called for a citywide black leadership summit to find ways to end the violence.

It is highly doubtful that such a summit will provide any real answers. When Houston's black youth see Mr. X hold a news conference with his "posse" (actually Black Panthers) toting automatic rifles--a stunt he has pulled several times-- what conclusion does he expect them to draw?

The black culture is dominated by collectivism--it's emphasis on racial pride is only one indicator. Collectivism is founded on the premise that violence is a proper means of dealing with others--the individual is subjugated to the group either "voluntarily" or by force. If black leaders really want to end the violence, they will begin by rejecting collectivism and embracing individualism. Instead of teaching "black pride" they will teach individual pride, which is the only type possible.

The Allure of Green
I have a minimal level of admiration for Oprah. She endured a great deal as a child and has achieved remarkable success. But that is the limit of my admiration. Beyond talking about her favorite book, or how to lose weight (just lose it, not keep it off), or hosting Dr. Phil, she doesn't have much credibility. Here are some tips from her web site (via Al "Do as I Say, Not as I Do" Gore) on how you too can go green and save the polar bears:

During a simple trip to the grocery store, you make hundreds of decisions
that can have real environmental impacts. With just a few easy changes, you can
make a positive difference in the world.

  1. Instead of regular aluminum foil or plastic wrap, buy recycled aluminum
  2. Look for items without extensive packaging.
  3. Bring a cloth bag to the grocery store instead of using its plastic bags.
  4. Buy local and organic.

1. The idea of using recycled foil seems kind of unsanitary to me. I guess when the greenies speak of "getting back to nature" they want us to commune with germs and cooties.

2. I'm not sure when "extensive packaging" means. My fruits and vegetables only come with their peels and rinds. Is that to be considered "extensive packaging"? My meat is usually on a little plastic thing (sorry, I don't know the technical term). I suppose I could remove the meat and put it in my pocket. And then they could recycle that little plastic thing.

3. Now here is one I might be able to go for. I carry cloth bags with me virtually everywhere. They come in real handy. I call them pockets, and you'd be surprised what I can store in them. But those frozen turkeys are a little rough.

4. This one has some appeal, only because local produce might be fresher. But I'm not going to burn a tank of gas running all over the city so I can get some locally grown blueberries, radishes, and sprouts.

In summary, when I go "green" it means I'm going to spend money--my money. And if that means that I will buy brand new foil, keep my pasta in the bag it came in, use plastic instead of paper, or buy corn from Chile, I'm not going to feel bad about it.


Harold said...

Hm, buying local seems pretty provincial to me, especially if the quality doesn't warrant doing so. Aren't these the people who consider themselves world citizens?

Brian Phillips said...

Most of their ideas don't make much sense when you examine them carefully. One of their mantras is "act locally, think globally" (or something like that), so there is some consistency.

Jeff said...

In most cases where a claim is prefaced by "experts believe" or "scientists argue", the claim has no basis in fact or the person writing is unqualified (i.e. arguing for a position he himself does not understand, leaving him only with an appeal to authority).