The Bookworm Beat 12/4/14 — Plumber days and party nights edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI spent a large part of my day hanging around waiting for the plumber to come and, once he came, hanging around while he did his thing. Surprisingly (for me, at least), this is not a complaint. I’m fortunate enough to have found a wonderful plumber (Marin residents can email me separately for referral info), and I’m just so happy to have my pipes in trustworthy hands.

How trustworthy? This is the plumber who, even though in a position to get an $11,000 job re-piping the main sewer line, said “Don’t be ridiculous. All you need to do is preventive rootering once a year plus RootX once a year. Problem solved.” I love this man and his team.

As for the party night . . . one of my soccer dad friends, going way back to when my kids were small, turns out to be a conservative. Not only that, he’s just a totally great guy — intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and the whole megillah of other positive adjectives. He’s hosting a little get-together tonight for a few of Marin’s hidden conservatives. I’m so looking forward to being in a room in which I can debate issues, rather than being baited about issues.

But before I go, I’m trying to jam out a few links I think you’ll enjoy. Forgive typos, ’cause I’m really rushing this one:

California’s drought cycles

I knew intuitively that this wasn’t the worst drought in California history. There have been other, drier years. What makes this so bad, my intuition told me, is that California’s population has increased dramatically since our last drought, but our water infrastructure has been pretty much unchanged for the last 50 or so years. So it’s not drier here, it’s just that we have more people making high demands during a dry cycle. Watts Up With That has the data showing that my intuition is right on the money.

Support the troops — shop Sears (plus a few other companies)

I’m pleased to report that I bought my new washing machine at Sears. Why am I pleased to report this? Because Sears really supports our troops. Thankfully, so do a lot of other businesses (and, apparently, you can identify those employers here). Perhaps this knowledge will affect the choices you make when shopping this holiday season.

You there! With the college degree. You make my kids sick.

Marin County must be one of the most degree-rich places in the world. In my neighborhood, every homeowner under 60 has a college degree and many of them (myself included) have more than one. We are sickeningly well-educated. Perhaps that excess of education accounts for our collective stupidity:

An epidemic of whooping cough has broken out in California. Not long ago, this ancient scourge had been banished by modern medicine. But now it’s back, thanks to people who believe modern medicine is dangerous.

These folks are not ignorant backwoods hicks. Many of them have advanced degrees. They live in some of the nicest neighbourhoods on Earth – places like Marin County, Napa and Malibu. But they believe that vaccines cause autism or worse. Immunization rates in some of the more fashionable California schools resemble those in the more backward parts of Africa.

I can add that, when whooping cough becomes epidemic because herd immunity fails, even children who have been vaccinated are vulnerable. Moreover, whooping cough isn’t the only childhood scourge making a comeback thanks to those Americans steeped in our educational system. Per the Wall Street Journal, measles is also making a comeback.

A more important fundraising plea than my own

In an earlier post, I put out my begging cup and asked for a bit of money to fund my blogging addiction. If you’ve got limited funds, I’ve since received a funding plea for a much more important recipient, and one that’s deserving of as much support as possible: The RubinReports. Barry Rubin, may his memory be a blessing, died earlier this year, but his organization lives on and does such good work. Please consider sending some money its way.

More on the UVA rape story

I think I’ve made my point that the UVA rape story doesn’t hold up. Something may have happened at UVA — things do happen at drunken frat parties — but it almost certainly wasn’t what’s described in the now infamous Rolling Stones story. I’ll just throw a fact in: Little Bookworm has a friend who’s a Sophomore at UVA. He told her that the story is bunk. The accused fraternity didn’t have a party — any party — on the night claimed. Moreover, to the extent the party is alleged to have been a “pledge party,” those take place in a different time of year than the alleged rape party.

Not only is the story suspicious in its own right, it comes along as more and more college kids feel it’s appropriate to lie about rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment to promote various issues. The latest such story comes out of the University of Chicago, where someone did just that:

A University of Chicago student has admitted to posting a racially charged Facebook status which they had previously claimed was a hack by the UChicago Electronic Army (UEA). The University had been investigating to find who was responsible for the initial incident of hate speech.

And a little addendum to the U Chicago story. When I read the above-linked article, which is in the university’s student paper, I was shocked by the horrible grammar:

As previously reported in the Maroon, the Facebook account of first-year Derek Caquelin was allegedly hacked last week by the UEA and a status was posted containing a racial slur and threats of sexual assault. However, at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Caquelin posted a Facebook status on their [sic] personal account in which they [sic] claimed responsibility for the incident.

I’m so behind the times. At the bottom of the article, there was a little note explaining the horrible grammar:

Editor’s Notes: “they/them/theirs” are Caquelin’s preferred pronouns.

Where do people get off thinking they’re plural? Only kings and queens are plural (e.g., “We are not amused.”) The good old-fashioned singular word for something that is neither “he” nor “she” is “it.”

Ooh, and while I’m on the subject of misguided, moronic university students (that’s the bang you get annually for your $50,000 bucks), Ami takes to UC Berkeley to find out what students know about ISIS, and how they think the US and ISIS compare. You might want an emesis basin nearby as you watch.

Pope Francis continues to baffle me

As the world gets more dangerous, and ISIS’s rise presages an increase in religiously-based assassinations, Pope Francis sacks the head of his Swiss Guard, on the ground that Daniel Anrig is just too military. The Pope wants a kinder, more loving Swiss Guard. I hope that the Pope doesn’t live to regret this decision.

Japanese bidet toilets

Yes, you read that caption correctly. This is about Japanese bidet toilets. When we returned from Japan a year-and-a-half ago, I wrote about the wonders of the Japanese bidet toilets. We never did install any in our home (cost prohibitive), but I may be re-thinking that. You see, I got an email from a Mom and Pop online company that’s selling affordably priced bidet toilets. They asked if I could promote their site on my blog and I thought, “Why the heck not? This is a good product, and I’d like to see more of it in the American market.” I can’t tell you whether Bidet.Org is a good business, because I haven’t done business with them, but their website certainly bespeaks a well-organized business with a good product.

Oh, I’ve got friends in cool places

One of the friends I’ve made through blogging is Marine Sergeant Major Mike Burke, who blogs at Castra Praetoria. He’s always sending me interesting and thought-provoking things, so I look upon him as someone who continuously helps me develop as a person and a thinker. I’m not the only one upon whom he’s had this effect. Terminal Lance is a wonderful blog that combines funny Marine-esque cartoons and blog posts. The latest edition, in addition to saying (and I agree) that Marines should be in good shape, has a nice shout-out to Mike.

Also, just so you know the kind of sergeant Mike his, Dakota Meyers trained under him (although I don’t believe he was serving with Mike when he earned that Medal of Honor).

Chimps are not people

Progressives try to blur the lines between animals and people (kill fetuses, but don’t kill chickens), but at least one court has held that, no, a chimp is not a person.

Christmas cheer

A grocery store in Germany did something utterly charming to welcome the Christmas season.