I, for one, am glad that some doctors out there are brave enough to hold back the tide of “black lung” addled coal miners/parasites who are threatening the profitability of our coal companies and our insurance companies:
After working underground in the coal mines of southern West Virginia for almost 35 years, Steve Day thought it was obvious why he gasped for air, slept upright in a recliner, and inhaled oxygen from a tank 24 hours a day.
More than half a dozen doctors who saw the masses in his lungs or the test results showing his severely impaired breathing were also in agreement.
The clear diagnosis was black lung.
Yet, when I met Steve in April 2013, he had lost his case to receive benefits guaranteed by federal law to any coal miner disabled by black lung. The coal company that employed the miner usually pays for these benefits, and, as almost always happens, Steve’s longtime employer had fought vigorously to avoid paying him. As a result, he and his family were barely scraping by, sometimes resorting to loans from relatives or neighbors to make it through the month.
Like many other miners, he had lost primarily because of the opinions of a unit of doctors at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions that had long been the go-to place for coal companies seeking negative X-ray readings to help defeat a benefits claim. The longtime leader of the unit, Dr. Paul Wheeler, testified against Steve, and the judge determined that his opinion trumped all others, as judges have in many other cases.
For your Thursday morning coffee drinking pleasure:
As some of you may know from twitter, last Thursday Erik’s new apartment was burglarized. He lost two computers (one from URI, one of his own), two external harddrives, and a truckload of digitized primary documents and music. The loss of hardware amounts to roughly $2000, but the losses in documents and music are far more significant. The trove of primary docs is the main source for the final chapters of Erik’s book manuscript on labor relations, environmentalism, and logging, and can be reconstructed only at considerable time and expense. The music is permanently gone.
In support of Erik, we’ve decided to launch a short fundraising drive. Aside from (small) overhead, all donations for the next week will go directly to Erik, in order to make up for some of the loss. Your support is deeply appreciated.
The above links are acting a bit twitchy, so if they’re not working just click on the Donate button on the near right sidebar.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the first aerial combat victory:
On August 25, Roland Garros and Lt. de Bernis became the first flyers to damage an enemy aircraft. Flying a Morane Parasol, they shot at a German airplane, which escaped in a dive, although one of the two men onboard was wounded. On September 7, Russian Pyotr Nesterov was the first pilot to destroy an enemy airplane, but he did it by ramming his Morane into an Austrian Albatros. Both air crews died as a result.
Then, on October 5, French pilot Sgt. Joseph Frantz and his mechanic/gunner, Louis Quénault, shot down a German biplane near Reims to record what is considered the first official aerial combat victory. Méchin tells the story in detail in this month’s edition of the French aviation history magazine Le Fana de l’aviation.
Histoire De L’Aviation -Ep02- Le Temps Des… by Fabinou92
French, but with some interesting footage of the machines of the time.
My latest at the National Interest is a broad assessment of the role of PGMs in American grand strategy:
How has the growth of the Precision-Guided Munitions (PGM) complex changed the balance of international power? More specifically, how has the U.S. military’s embrace of this system of weapons affected its ability to accomplish U.S. national goals? The president’s decision to pursue the war against ISIS strictly through the means of airpower and seapower makes the question particularly relevant. The United States will fight ISIS with precision-guided munitions, and apparently little else. It’s worth asking how effective they are in accomplishing national ends. The answer, it turns out, is surprisingly mixed.
In the wake of Penn State’s decision to drop its Confucius Institute:
And so at risk of pursuing the mushy middle road, we in academia can grant that the Confucius Institutes represent an act of (not entirely disinterested) generosity on the part of the People’s of Republic of China, and we can do our best to take advantage of this generosity in both our research and on behalf of our students. The United States is not at war with China; it maintains correct diplomatic relations with Beijing and American business conducts commerce with China on a vast scale. At the same time, without worrying overmuch that we’re submitting to the “rhythm of totalitarianism,” we need to remember that the Institutes represent one (privileged) vision of China’s past, present, and future. The CI is not a center for disinterested research (although few places are), and we can’t expect academic even-handedness with respect to the critical political challenges affecting the U.S.-China relationship today.
Found this in the basement of a local church (the girls have music class in the next room):
The original is by Harry Anderson, finished in 1961. The most common interpretation (based on the title, Prince of Peace) is that the Savior is expressing support for the world-peace-bringing mission of the United Nations (his position on the United Nations Command in the Korean War is less certain). Alternative interpretations include “Giant Jesus Confirms Impotence of United Nations Security Council,” “500′ Nazarene Turns on UN After Slaying Godzilla,” “Enormous Christ Offers to Redeem Sins of Canadian Diplomat Who Double Parked His Dodge Station Wagon.”
I stop paying attention for a few months, and this happens:
Congratulations to Matt, who has an uncanny skill at the particular game. I’d offer an LGM prize, but Matt has always refused. Next year!
In order to avoid breaking my twenty-six year streak of attending at least one professional baseball game, this afternoon DJW and I made it to the Red’s final game of the season. The bulk of the drama was on Pittsburgh’s side, as the Pirates were trying to tie St. Louis and earn a playoff for the division title. For their part, the Reds were playing to give Johnny Cueto his twentieth victory of the season.
Cueto wasn’t dominant, but he pitched very well, pitching eight innings of one run ball and scattering six hits. In the bottom of the eighth, Jason Bourgeois tripled to lead off. Cozart lined out to third, bringing up the pitcher’s spot. To the deep surprise of nearly everyone in the stadium, Price sent Cueto to the plate. Cueto pushed it to a full count, then singled up the middle to score Bourgeois and take the lead. Price then lifted him for a pinch-runner. The Reds scored two more, then Chapman struck out the side in the top of the ninth to seal Cueto’s twentieth win.
I wonder about the clubhouse conversation; did Cueto insist on hitting, or was it Price’s idea? It was a nice bit of drama in an otherwise not-terribly-meaningful game.
My latest at the National Interest touches on some sources of ISIS’ military success:
ISIS has won by exploiting the vulnerabilities of its enemies, which take the form of Western military organizations, while lacking their fighting and communications discipline. This allows ISIS to identify, in both tactical and operational terms, weak points that can cause an entire enemy position to cave in upon itself. In essence, ISIS has an operational form that allows decentralized commanders to use their experienced fighters against the weakest points of its foes. At the same time, the center retains enough operational control to conduct medium-to-long term planning on how to allocate forces, logistics, and reinforcements.
I also have a piece at the Diplomat about the changing role of small navies:
Of course, in practice local conditions limited the advantages of large forces, and small forces sometimes won the day. Crafted appropriately, small forces could threaten larger fleets with platforms and weapons (such as submarines, torpedo boats, and missile boats) that could threaten large ships. This role, of deterring a much larger force, has been part of the mission-kit of small navies for a very long time.
On the September 22 edition of his show, O’Reilly claimed that the only credible plan to defeat the Islamic State had to include a mercenary force of 25,000 “English-speaking” fighters that would be recruited and trained by the United States. O’Reilly explained that his mercenary army would be comprised of “elite fighters who would be well-paid, well-trained to defeat terrorists all over the world.”
And North Korea needs the hard currency… and North Korean soldiers need the food. It’s a match made in heaven!
So now we’re bombing Syria, in a way we never imagined we might be bombing Syria!
Oh, how the world turns. I realize that I should have a stronger opinion on all of this, both on political and professional grounds. I suppose on both the campaign leaves me feeling cold; it should be fairly clear by this point that there is always the potential for someone worse than the people we’ve decided to bomb at a given moment. I’m also deeply skeptical that either the Kurds, the FSA, the Syrian Army, or the Iraqi Army will be able to take advantage of the airstrikes to do anything very useful against ISIS, although the attrition factor will probably wear on the group over time.