Video of the day

Nice feature asking persons whether being gay is a choice or something you are born with.  Then following up with, “when did you choose to be straight?”  Makes for some great moments:

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Black turnout

It’s a long time after the election, but apparently it has just recently been determined that the turnout rate for Blacks in 2012 actually surpassed the turnout rate for Whites.  And when you consider that the single biggest predictor of turnout is education level, this means that Blacks actually overperformed their civic duty.  Obviously, Obama himself is a big part of this story, but also the amazing effort of the Obama campaign to get Black voters to the polls is a big part of the story, too.  NYT:

WASHINGTON — The turnout rate of black voters surpassed the rate for whites for the first time on record in 2012, as more black voters went to the polls than in 2008 and fewer whites did, according to a Census Bureau report released Wednesday.

The survey also found that Hispanics and Asians continue to turn out at much lower rates than other groups, and that women turn out at higher rates than men. The increase in black turnout was driven in significant part by more votes from black women.

What I would love to see is a turnout analysis comparing battleground states vs. non to see the effect to which this was Obama’s organization, which obviously did not bother in “safe” (one way or the other) states like Alabama, New York, etc.

Never even been on a surfboard, but as you know, I cannot resist a good surfing photo.  From the Telegraph’s photos of the week:

A surfer rides a wave at an offshore reef known as Dungeons in Cape Town,

Some of the first big winter swells driven by storms in the south Atlantic are breaking on Cape Town’s outer reefs, providing good conditions for big wave surfing

Picture: EPA

Guns and self defense

Love this post about guns and self defense from political scientist Bill Ayers (and yes, I love that he shares a name with that “domestic terrorist”).  When it comes to guns and self defense, Bill brings the logic:

People who think that guns “ensure” their right to self defense are assuming something about the nature of the threats they will face in life. They assume that they will see the threat coming, with enough time to draw their weapon from wherever it is stashed (and, presumably, loaded) and bring it to bear.

People who are going to attack you, however, have no interest in giving you this much warning. Out in the public arena, attackers will want the maximum advantage of both isolation and surprise. Someone intent on doing you harm doesn’t want to engage with you or fight you; they want to overwhelm you, because that minimizes the chances they will themselves get hurt. The defense against surprise attacks isn’t a gun – which can’t be brought to bear quickly enough – but awareness. The solution to the “what if I’m in a dark alley with a mugger?” problem is don’t go down a dark alley alone, or at all. The mind is a far more effective self defense weapon than anything else you can carry, as every self defense workshop and instructor will tell you.

Guns-as-defense people also talk about firearms for home defense, on the assumption that someone is going to break into your home intending to do you harm. That can happen – although good locks, an alarm system, and a dog all go a long way to ameliorating that danger – but the vast majority of home break-ins are done on empty houses. People are there to steal, not to harm, and if loot is the goal they don’t want to risk someone calling the cops or shooting them. If your intention is to hurt (assault/rape/murder) someone in general (as opposed to someone targeting you in particular, which is a different issue entirely), there are many, many easier ways to find and get access to a victim than breaking into a locked home.

One of the reasons the NRA wants us all packing (concealed) heat is the idea that the bad guys will have no idea whether any potential victim has a gun or not, so they’ll just leave everybody alone.  Actually, if criminals are so rational, I find Ayers’ logic far more compelling– it just simply puts way more emphasis on the element of surprise.  And there’s nothing a gun can do to help you when you’ve been suddenly hit in the back of the head or walk into a situation and find one already pointed at you.  Unless you are Raylen Givens.

Also, a point I meant to make about guns and home defense earlier this week.  When you are keeping a gun in your home to defend against an intruder you are implicitly engaging in a cost/benefit analysis.  The evidence is quite clear that, on average, that gun is far more likely to be used against a member of your family than an intruder.  The fact that sometimes guns are actually used to successfully defend against intruders does not change that baseline calculation.  It’s a bad risk.

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