G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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2. Audacious Epigone with a fantastic look at GSS data concerning race group perceptions of which racial groups are more likely to commit violence.
But as journalists, should we really be going after “Truth” in the vague, poetic Keatsian sense of the word? Or should we be going after “facts”?
After a story is exposed as being a fake or half-true — whether it’s Amanda Marcotte on Duke lacrosse, Matt Gutman on Trayvon Martin, or Huffington Post on the latest restaurant receipt hoax — journalists and other advocates try to argue that it doesn’t matter if the attributes of the particular story are false since the message that the falsified event is meant to convey — that bigotry/racism/rape/homophobia/etc. still exist in our society — is true in the abstract.
5. On Twitter yesterday Matt Yglesias was asking if the decision on the part of Darden Restaurants to spin off or sell Red Lobster was due to the seafood chain’s bad food. He seemingly meant “bad” in a taste sense, but, if that’s what he meant, I think he’s wrong. First off, food that is “bad” at a certain price point ($15 a plate) becomes “good” if it costs, say, $10 a plate. Red Lobster was once successful, and assuming both that their food is about the same as it’s ever been and that their prices have remained relatively stable, then something else must be at play here. One reason for Red Lobster’s decline may be that they are not a healthy seafood chain, and consumers are marginally choosing healthier fare. Right now, Red Lobster is known for its fried shrimp, butter-laden dishes, and butter and cheese biscuits (they are wonderful). Consumers aren’t exactly healthy, but they seem to be avoiding audacious caloric decadence. But besides that shift, I wonder if Red Lobster’s customer demographics have anything to do with its fall. It’s no secret that black people love Red Lobster. According to Black Enterprise (I apologize for the annoying auto ad at the link) blacks visit casual dining seafood restaurants 57% more, in relative terms, than other racial groups. But blacks have fared the worst during the economic decline and stagnation. I think that’s finally become an untenable situation for Darden after years of its other concepts keeping it afloat.
6. There are a couple of interesting aspects to the case of Terry Loewen, the Wichita man who was arrested in a terror plot to blow up the local airport:
He [a friend of Loewen's] asked his friend how he had gone from being a devout Christian, a guy who sometimes brought a Bible to work and knew thousands of Bible verses off the top of his head, to supporting Islamic jihad.
But Damien Loewen said he began to see his father become more distant, which he attributed to his stepmother.
For the past eight months, Damien Loewen said, he didn’t see much of his dad at all. His dad stopped coming around to visit him, his new wife and son.
“He seemed a little more down recently, more tired. I noticed a sudden decline in everything,” Damien Loewen said.
Damien Loewen said his wife tried to reach out to Terry Loewen on Facebook, telling him he needed to come visit more often. But he said Deborah would not allow it.
This is not to say that Loewen’s wife or his life situation or his impressionability and desire to find an absolute doctrine (and what is more absolute than power?) caused him to attempt in his own feeble way to try to blow up the Wichita airport. But those are some of the conditions which are associated with people doing desperate things.
On another note, Loewen seemed to not have any legitimate connections to Al Qaeda nor any knowledge about how to make or procure materials for a bomb. This looks like another one of those FBI sting operations in which the “threats” are not imminent and which occur because arrests look good to the public and also because the FBI has a counterterrorism budget that it has to spend. Trevor Aaronson has a good book on this topic which I’ve just finished reading. If you’ve ever wondered why we hear about people being arrested on terrorism conspiracy charges without any actual terror being conducted in the States, it’s because all of those who are charged with the crimes were set-up from the get-go with inert bombs.