Proportions

The recent flooding of Houston made me think of numbers (because that’s the kind of guy I am).

One of my friends lives inside the City of Houston, and his house was not flooded (because the city is built on a hill, relatively speaking, of about 400 ft. above sea level. But it’s an island, so to speak, because most of the surrounding area is less than 100 ft. above the Gulf of Mexico — hence the massive floods caused by Harvey).

For my British Readers, let me give some perspective. The Greater London area (population 8.8 million) comprises about 605 square miles; greater Houston (pop. 6.5 million) comprises just over 8,900 square miles (in the U.S., “greater” is labeled as “metropolitan statistical area”, or MSA).

In so large an area, you’ll get a situation like this:

Texans don’t trust government, so they rescued each other when things got desperate

Across Southeast Texas, police, firefighters, the National Guard, the Coast Guard and other agencies responded with immense force. But in a storm of Harvey’s sheer monstrousness — hundreds of miles across, lingering for days with bucketing rain that swallowed roads and initially kept rescue aircraft grounded — no government response could ever have been enough.

So ordinary people took up the challenge.

When Andrew Brenneise saw his West Houston neighborhood flooding at a ferocious pace last Saturday, his first thought was Facebook Live. He pulled out his smartphone in the punishing rain and pleaded for volunteers with boats.

Forty-five minutes later, the first truck arrived with a boat on a trailer. Then ten more. Then twenty. Then Brenneise had a flotilla of fishing boats, kayaks, canoes and flat-bottomed skiffs which, over the next six days, rescued hundreds of people and animals.

“This is who we are,” said Brenneise, 31, a business development manager at a chemical company. “The police and firefighters can’t be everywhere, so the community has to step in and take control.”

It’s true that by and large, Texans don’t trust the government (any government, even our own) — our state constitution is the most restrictive covenant in the world — but coupled to that is the realization that government can’t be everywhere, all the time (especially as in the absence of a state income tax, we can’t and don’t want to fund it). That’s true even in the best of times, as it happens, which means that in a massive crisis like Harvey, we have to take care of ourselves — and it looks like we did.

I also note that comparatively speaking, there doesn’t seem to have been too much thievery, no doubt because of the many “You loot, we’ll shoot” signs that popped up all over the place. Yeah, we include “defense of our property” in the list of things we don’t entirely delegate to government either. And any suggestion that government agencies should disarm Texans in times of disaster would be met with mocking laughter, not just from ordinary people but also from our elected politicians and police forces.

Now for the rebuilding. Texas has an aptly-named “rainy day fund” of just under $10 billion, which we’re going to have to dip into, I guess. The federal government will probably kick in as well — and before anyone jumps in with a “so you hate government but you’ll take their money” snark, let me remind y’all that we Texans do pay federal income taxes — and in any event, if the rest of the U.S.A. wants gasoline for their cars, we’ll need to fix the drowned oil refineries around Houston too; so yeah, the feds should come to the party.

I haven’t really kept on top of this — I’ve been eating Full English Breakfasts, getting plastered on warm ale, and swanning around stately palaces, sue me — but that seems to be a reasonable overview of the situation.

Feel free to add corrections and comments in the usual place.


Afterthought:  the Dallas-Ft. Worth MSA (pop. 7.1 million) extends for 9,268 square miles, fifteen times the size of Greater London.

Speed Bump

Via Insty, I was reading this article which talks about how the First Amendment is designed to protect unpopular speech, and everyone’s speech in general, when this little sentence stopped me in my tracks (with my emphasis on the part which did so):

For White and Czjetanovic, being white nationalists has no impact on their ability to do their jobs. Had they held other jobs in which their white nationalism would directly affect their job performance, perhaps the internet mob would be justified in its quest to take heads (white nationalists shouldn’t be teaching WWII history to impressionable middle school students, for example).

Here’s where this little thing falls apart. We conservatives have been aghast at how “impressionable middle school students” have, for decades now, been taught by Frankfurt-School socialists, who have been busy with their little Gramscian plan of inculcating Marxist principles and Weltanschauung into our kids — and now I’m supposed to bristle at the thought of white nationalists teaching in middle-school classrooms?

The author (Bethany Daniel) has done precisely what she argues against in her article: she’s conflated white supremacists with Western Civ devotees (like myself). Frankly, if a white nationalist teacher kept herself in check and kept the racist shit to herself while extolling the value of Western Civilization when teaching history to middleschoolers, I’d rather see that than some vapid socialist twerpette interpreting WWII as a struggle between the patriotic proletariat of the glorious Soviet Union and the oppressive capitalist systems of the West.

The difference is that socialists are quite unapologetic about their propagandizing — even while teaching impressionable middle school students — while we Western Civ boosters have to be constantly on the defensive about our position lest we offend someone in the Perpetually Offended Set because racism.

Screw that. Given that bias is inevitable in any teaching system, the goal should be to stop not just white nationalists from teaching, but Marxists as well. Sadly, the education hierarchy in the West is only doing half the job.

Mourning Dress

In Britishland, there are groups of “travelers” (gypsies) a.k.a. “pikeys” who,as their name suggests, are of no fixed abode and who wander all over Europe in vans, RVs and mobile homes (caravans), and take over private land by simply squatting there and refusing to move. Being of no fixed abode, and apparently having no legal income, they survive essentially by being criminals, both petty and massive, and often violent.

I leave it to my Loyal Readers to ponder how they would be treated by both police and members of the public in various locales if they tried that squatting nonsense in the United States.

Anyway, a week or so ago two such groups of pikeys were apparently locked in a deadly feud with each other, and in one lovely incident a yoot belonging to one tribe was beaten to death with a shovel. Ordinarily, this would occasion little comment as it falls into the “Chicago drug dealers kill each other over turf” category, i.e. nobody cares.

However, pikeys, like the Italian crime families of yore, are known for their elaborate and costly funerals. This particular dead yoot brought forth an extraordinary one, even by pikey standards. You know you are respected in death when mourners dress in somber funeral attire such as this:

Among ordinary people, this creature could easily be classed as a Train Smash Woman, but I suspect that the term is probably generic for all female members of these tribes.

And lest I be accused of misrepresentation, here’s a wider view of the funeral procession:

Not the sort one would find at a Free Market Towers garden party on a Sunday afternoon, I suspect, and a game of “Spot The Virgin” would be pointless.

I’m frequently amused, on similar occasions, by the wails of the dead miscreants’ mothers: “He was taken too soon!” they scream before collapsing into some supporter’s arms.

“Not taken soon enough” would be my assertion, and I suspect that I’d most often be correct.


Afterthought: I have been told that the term “pikey” is disrespectful. Very well; henceforth, in the interests of accuracy I shall refer to these people as “shiftless criminal bastards”. Nah, that’s too long and too much hassle to type out. “Pikeys” it shall remain.

 

Not Rude, Just Funny

For those many of my Readers who don’t follow rugby, the “haka” is a Maori war dance performed before every kick-off by the New Zealand national team (known as the All Blacks because of their uniform color, not because they’re all Maoris, who aren’t “black” anyway). Here’s a pic of the haka:

Right now, the British Lions team has been touring New Zealand, and some of their fans (who’d come all the way over from BritishLionsLand) performed a satirical version of said haka — prompting some twerp to ask whether this might not be regarded as “insulting”. (Apparently not; most New Zealanders, who clearly have a sense of humor, find it funny.)

I once suggested to Mr. Free Market that England should come up with a suitable response to the haka, when the All Blacks tour the U.K. His response was a classic:

To the Perpetually Aggrieved, such a response would no doubt be classified as “hateful” because it reminds people of the horrifying imbalance between Evil White Militarism and Heroic Native Peoples’ Resistance or something.

Frankly, I think it’s an excellent reminder, and one which we in the U.S. should employ more often, e.g. in demonstrations such as this one:

Okay, that might be seen as overkill at a sports competition, but you get my point.

My suggestion for the proper response to the haka didn’t require muskets and bayonets, by the way:

No doubt some would find that offensive, too.