Friday, September 18, 2015

Annals of death: The stuff we care about, and don't

In the last 20 hours or so I heard two bits of curious thinking from, well, liberals, in quotidian refinement of the endless Narrative to which we are all subject in these parlous times.

Last night your blogger and his fetching better half took in Steve Earle and the Dukes at Austin's classic Paramount Theater. The show was great and entertaining, apart from the usual left-wing political digression that one has to endure at so many artistic moments these days. Earle rambled on incoherently about the environment for a couple of minutes, and then talked about what an awesome thing it was that we banned DDT, in order that the large birds could rebuild their population. For some reason that defies easy explanation for somebody so learned as Earle, he skipped over the part about 198 million human cases of malaria every year, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of needless deaths, 90% of which occur in Africa. I bet he also thinks #blacklivesmatter, but not, giving weight to his expressed preferences, if they are African.

All of this would be much easier to take if it had not been limpid-pool clear for more than a decade that the ban on DDT -- as opposed to banning aerial spraying, which is an entirely different matter -- was responsible for millions of needless human deaths. But nooooo, Earle was delighted that there was a pair of nesting red-tailed hawks on a building near his Manhattan apartment and apparently wholly uninterested that more Africans die every year from malaria than the aggregate American deaths in all of World War II. And the ignorant but very satisfied Austin audience applauded.

This evening I enjoyed a short drive from the office to the Lady Bird Lake running trail, and got more than usually irritated at NPR. It seems that the feds have released new data on workplace deaths in the United States during 2014. NPR used the report to go after the oil and gas industry, which piled up occupational deaths at a rate roughly five times the baseline carnage of 3.3 per 100,000 workers. This was all very interesting, if only NPR had mentioned that in 2014 the oil and gas sector in the United States was at the peak of a multi-generational boom, and that deaths were no doubt going to collapse in 2015 along with the rig count. Whatever. Here are two facts that NPR did not report:

  • Women accounted for a mere 8% of the workplace fatalities. Since NPR would normally obsess about a 12:1 gender disparity in any data, one can only conclude that it deliberately ignored this elephantine factoid in the room because people might wonder if it accounted for some of the aggregate average disparity in pay between the genders.
  • As curiously, there were significant differences in fatality risk by "race," counting as the government does. Latinos died at a rate of 3.6 per 100,000, a tad higher than whites (3.4 per 100,000), but well ahead of African-Americans (3.0 per 100,000) and Asian-Americans (a desk-jobbish 1.7 per 100,000). In our social-justice world, how to you fail to call attention to those disparities? Oh. Wait. Because narrative.
  • The people who shape our culture wouldn't know intellectual honesty if it bit off their big toe and ate it with a nice Chianti.

    3 comments:

    James Hirs said...

    Well said!

    "The Hammer" said...

    Isn't it interesting that GWB literally SAVED Africa from AIDS and gets little or no credit, and the ban on DDT instigated by a dying lunatic looking for a scapegoat (Rachel Carson) resulting in the deaths of untold millions of Africans, is loved and revered by the watermelon left (red on the inside, green on the outside). If there's a more clear example of LIBERALISM IS DEATH I can't think of one.
    You paid good money to see Steve Earle...and you call yourself a conservative? In Austin, Chapel Hill or Berkeley maybe, but watch yourself if you're ever in Tickbite.

    TigerHawk said...

    I think it is clear that I am more libertarian than conservative, although unlike libertarians I am a hawk in foreign policy and (compared to most people) a hawk on immigration. But I like live music, so if I avoided everybody with whom I disagree it would be a sad state of affairs.

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