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One whale of a disconnect

I’m not someone who wants to see a killer whale killed just because it killed someone.  It’s what killer whales do, and of course Dawn Brancheau, the Seaworld trainer who was killed by an off-kilter orca yesterday, knew that well.  Still and all, there’s something not only circular but disturbing about the reasoning displayed in this AP article about the Seaworld tragedy:

Brancheau’s older sister, Diane Gross, said the trainer would not have wanted anything done to the whale. “She loved the whales like her children. She loved all of them,” said Gross, of Schererville, Ind. “They all had personalities, good days and bad days.”

In a profile in the Orlando Sentinel in 2006, Brancheau acknowledged the dangers, saying: “You can’t put yourself in the water unless you trust them and they trust you.” . . .

Howard Garrett, co-founder and director of the Washington-based nonprofit Orca Network, . . . . said Tilikum was probably agitated before Wednesday’s attack, possibly from some kind of clash with the other whales.

Gary Wilson, a professor at Moorpark College’s exotic animal training program, said it can be difficult to detect when an animal is about to turn on its trainer.

“One of the challenges working with any animal is learning to read its body language and getting a feel for what’s going on in its mind,” he said.

Right.  But here’s the thing:  If Dawn Brancheau wasn’t up to meeting that challenge–she who “loved the whales like her children,” and who knew their personalities, and the fact that they had “good days and bad days”–who is?  She was everything you would expect someone to be who is capable of “learning to read [an orca’s] body language and getting a feel for what’s going on in its mind.”

So is the job of killer whale trainer at Sea World one in which you acknowledge the distinct possibility that you could do everything right but still get killed doing it?  That would not make such a job particularly unusual; millions of people do such work, and have a lot less fun at it than Dawn Brancheau did at her job until the sad day when it stopped very hard at being fun.  And not all such jobs are all that more “serious” than the one that took Brancheau’s life, or as economically productive either.

I’m not so much a “there oughtta be a law guy,” as I said in a recent post where I uncharacteristically said just that.  I don’t think there is a need for a law here, either.  It’ s hard to imagine choosing to risk death so you can do a whale show. But if it’s truly a choice, so be it.  That means, however, that if orca trainers and those like them are going to at least be said to have made their potentially deadly career choices voluntarily, they’ll have to think more clearly than at least the Associated Press wrote in lining up those quotations and leaving the obvious contradiction they raise hanging.

UPDATE:  A tad more rigor at Overlawyered.

CPAC thoughts

Not mine, mind you.  I send John Hawkins down to round everything up for me.  If I were to attend in person, the whole mystery persona would be shot!  Look what happens to Ron Paul, for example, when people actually look under that rock.  Yeah, there goes my putsch strategy.  So that’s right out.  But Right Wing News has just released the top 20 quotes from CPAC 2010.  I’m not even saying they’re even all safe for work–they’re not.

That’s the other reason I don’t go to CPAC.  Because I’m the last cultural conservative, remember?

Well, at least we know the stimulus worked!

My friend Aziz Poonawalla, via Insty who, interestingly, links to the story guilelessly (I can’t buy a link these days–should I get a turban?), lays it right out:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the landmark stimulus bill which most economists agree has staved off a second Great Depression. The evidence that the stimulus has worked is overwhelming – the New York Times has an in-depth article looking at its actual impact on jobs, and an indispensable graphic showing a timeline of key economic indicators before and after its passage. There’s another beautiful chart based on job loss data from Dec 2007 to Jan 2010 which also makes the impact of the stimulus crystal clear. The recognition of the stimulus’ success isn’t just data-driven – Republican lawmakers who have publicly denounced it for political gain have been quietly and hypocritically scrambling for stimulus money for their districts – as documented by the Wall Street Journal and by the Washington Times.

The only real flaw in the stimulus bill was that it wasn’t big enough . . .

Aziz, Aziz, Aziz.  Where do we start with this?

  • How about the leap from “most economists agree” to the sole source of his authority for this breathtaking proposition–“the New York Times has an in-depth article . . .”  That’s it.  I don’t even have to find economists who don’t agree and with this and try to figure out whether they are or aren’t “most”–Aziz thinks the New York Times is actually a trustworthy source for this preposterous statement.  That actually tells me, in contrast, that the entire remainder of his article is not worthy of reading, because Aziz, who is not an economist, is not making  a serious attempt to objectively see if his central premise is correct.
  • Then there’s the fact that “most economists” didn’t agree what ended the first Great Depression until about 20 years ago (it wasn’t the New Deal, by the way).  The idea that “most economists” would agree “the landmark stimulus bill . . .  has staved off a second Great Depression” –and that they would have nothing to say about a trillion dollar deficit that has resulted–is, to any serious student of economics, truly laughable.
  • And what exactly do “all economists” say?   Read More..

Candy canes, unicorns could not be reached for comment

New York Times:

U.S. Encounters Limits of Iran Engagement Policy

Well, let’s be sure and learn all this stuff from scratch.  Each time.

What hump?

In certain cultures, lying is not an issue.

In most cultures, lying about Israel is not an issue.

But for Palestinian “leaders,” lying about Israel is the default position.

Google Buzz: Can we still reclaim ourselves from the Net?

No, it’s not all good.

Years ago I wrote,  “Google is not a utility. Or an agent of the state, or a thing that owes anyone anything except to the extent they pay for it. At least for now.”

Out of nowhere comes Google Buzz.  It’s social networking that just appeared in your mailbox!  As Adrian Dayton said earlier today, “I feel a little bit like I have been “spammed” into joining Google Buzz.”

Here’s a chat I had this morning with social media consultant (not “guru”!) Brian Wallace, who is entirely responsible for everything I have achieved with (and nothing I have abused via) social media, and he is not a happy camper, either:

[2/10/2010 7:08:41 PM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: hi
[2/10/2010 7:09:08 PM] Ron Coleman: hi — just logging off, catching train — talk later!
[2/10/2010 7:21:57 PM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: safe trip
[12:13:52 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: when you’re up and about – really would like to talk about google buzz with you
[9:29:00 AM] Ron Coleman: Good, I actually logged on because of my rude departure with you last night
[9:39:32 AM] Ron Coleman: OK yeah so I saw your initial take on this yesterday AM!
[9:39:51 AM] Ron Coleman: I was imagining you probably are thinking it’s bad enough they already know everything else about us…
[9:39:53 AM] Ron Coleman: That was my guess.
[9:42:04 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: hehe
[9:42:08 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: google buzz you mean
[9:42:16 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: it’s freaking awful
[9:42:27 AM] Ron Coleman: well that’s what you starrting the conversation with yeah
[9:42:29 AM] Ron Coleman: awful as in?
[9:42:32 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: as in

[9:42:49 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: raping our social network for their “search quality efforts”
[9:43:03 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: i’m just getting nervous about what they are in charge of and how it all connects
[9:43:11 AM] Ron Coleman: Well I saw this coming when they started returning results from “within your social network”
[9:43:18 AM] Ron Coleman: Whoa!
[9:43:19 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: yes agree
[9:43:24 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: whoa what
[9:43:30 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: oh the raping
[9:43:38 AM] Ron Coleman: I don’t think anything can stop them from owning us all but a law at this point
[9:43:47 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: right
[9:44:57 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: search + web history + analytics + transactions + mail (and reading it, mind you) + chat (and history) + our sites + trusted connections/connecting the dots + docs (and don’t forget, now they let u upload any docs, not just goog) + wave (comic relief?) + deals with real time search + etc
[9:46:00 AM] Ron Coleman: It’s ironic though because these are all services that do on their own merit greatly — albeit in varying degrees — really benefit the user.
[9:46:14 AM] Ron Coleman: I LOVE being able to read an attachment in Google docs without having to download it…
[9:46:29 AM] Ron Coleman: But between Google and FB …
[9:46:50 AM] Ron Coleman: I bet they could do a pretty good virtual mirror of all our hard drives without actually ever taking an image.
[9:47:50 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: correct
[9:47:59 AM] Brian Wallace – NowSourcing: maybe i should do a post like

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Attorney Ronald D. Coleman