Are Trumpsters tiring of the flak? (Update #7)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 28, 2021, 5:15 am.

  2. February 28, 2021, 11:32 am:

    • I guess the question for me is, just how representative of the larger party are Pennsylvania Republicans? Right now, my sense is that they pretty much are, as they consider censuring Pat Toomey, a U.S. Senator who broke with most other Republicans to support Donald Trump’s impeachment. The vote to censure Toomey was put on hold due to technical problems, but if I’m reading between the lines correctly—and certainly my sense of the state as a whole would indicate as much—the motion will surely pass.[1]

  3. March 1, 2021, 10:44 pm:

    • So if I understand correctly, neo-Nazis designed the Conservative Political Action Conference stage in the form of a symbol used on Gestapo uniforms, then called recognition of the design as such a “conspiracy theory.”[2]

      Has anyone else noticed the shape of the CPAC stage is the Odal Rune/SS insignia? pic.twitter.com/TCns4B1tq8

      — The Daily Beans Podcast (@dailybeanspod) February 26, 2021

      Now, is that rich or is that rich? I’d call this, at the very minimum, a public relations problem, and the Hyatt Hotel that hosted the conference quickly denounced the use of the symbol,[3] suggesting that they recognize a public relations problem.

      But Matt Schlapp, chair of the American Conservative Union, which runs CPAC, called the idea that the stage was purposely shaped like the Odal rune a “conspiracy theory.”

      “Stage design conspiracies are outrageous and slanderous,” he tweeted Saturday.[4]

      So what were all those Nazi symbols doing at the U.S. Capitol coup attempt then?[5] You know, the ones being carried by all those ‘patriots’ determined to ‘save’ the country?

  4. March 2, 2021, 12:20 am:

    • I’ve been distressed by my job prospects not only for what really are pretty obvious reasons, but because I perceive that I am destroying perfectly good cars.

      It turns out I am also destroying perfectly good cell phones. I’ve noticed a number of behaviors lately with my Pixel 4 XL, but especially aggravating was a sound problem that made music playing on my car’s sound system sound like a boom box from hell. I trying to compensate way more with the equalizer than I feel I should, those adjustments still weren’t enough, and it was ruining the experience.

      Of course, the trouble with something like this is you don’t know if it’s the phone, media players on the phone, or the car’s sound system.

      So I tried a different media player: Same result.

      I dredged out my old Pixel 3 XL that was actually a warranty replacement that I hadn’t ever actually used (it doesn’t support dual SIM-dual standby [DSDS]) and tried it. Strikingly different result: The sound is less rich but also, there’s none of that horrid booming.

      Which means that it isn’t the car’s sound system that’s misbehaving, but my Pixel 4 XL. Yeah, I’ve got a new phone, a Pixel 5, on order. It’s really a bad time of year for this sort of thing, but the Pixel 5 is relatively inexpensive, and I’ll get relatively high trade-in value for the Pixel 4 XL. And I have a Google Store credit card which I really can’t use for much else.

      The Pixel 5 supports 5G but this won’t do me any good because it doesn’t simultaneously support 5G and DSDS.

      Driving for Uber and Lyft is proving to be a really expensive way to not make a living.

  5. March 2, 2021, 10:31 pm:

    • The White House has withdrawn[6] Neera Tanden’s long-troubled—seriously, if you weren’t a neoliberal, you likely hated her—nomination to chair the Office of Management and Budget.[7]

  6. March 3, 2021, 10:41 am:

    • I’m thinking I might be replacing my Pixel 4 XL not a minute too soon. I’ve put the Pixel 3 XL back in the drawer but I noticed some notifications appeared much more promptly on it, with a difference measured in hours. My delivery tracking app on the Pixel 4 XL is now not working, which might be an app failure, or might be a phone failure.

      I found a relatively detailed comparison of the Pixel 4 XL to a Pixel 5. As I thought, it’s not really an upgrade; I win some ways and lose in others with the new phone. Crucial details include a lower grade processor and a smaller display on the Pixel 5. It has longer battery life,[8] but this isn’t really a factor for me because the phone is plugged in the entire time it’s connected with Android Auto. I had really hoped to hold on for the Pixel 6 and this is the problem: The last few phone upgrades have been decisions that have been forced upon me by various failures, ranging from swollen batteries to klutzy—and for me, dangerous—user interfaces (this was the iPhone) to what I’m seeing with the Pixel 4 XL. It’s bad enough to be making next to nothing. But between the car and my phone, my expenses are out of control.

      The Pixel 5 should arrive today.

      I’m trying to take steps to reduce the load on my phone, but this entails yet more expense as I’m adding a WiFi hotspot to the car, which I’m also making available to my passengers, hopefully to improve their satisfaction with my service and mitigate their complaints about my music. More speculatively, I’ll also be experimenting with a dongle substitute for Android Auto when it arrives. The theory really is that if I’m not working the phone so hard, perhaps it will last a bit longer.

      But the question still really is, why can’t I have a real job?

    • There are a couple stories that, if I weren’t already posting an update, I wouldn’t bother mentioning because there really isn’t anything new. They’re significant in that they flesh out what was already known:

      • Questions remain about Uber’s business model.[9] Gee. Ya think?

      • Apparently a membership list of the Three Percenters, a militia group, leaked. Utterly unsurprisingly, it includes military and police.[10]

    • I’ve archived these stories, but really, there’s absolutely nothing surprising about either of them.

  7. March 3, 2021, 9:25 pm:

    • The Pixel 5 arrived and I’ve been spending most of the late afternoon and evening setting it up. That includes moving the numbers from the old phone to the new phone. With Verizon, it’s a pretty simple matter to simply pull the subscribe identity module (SIM) card from one device and stick it in the other. AT&T, for which I have to use an electronic SIM (e-SIM), is another matter.

      My mother will tell you she won’t deal with AT&T because of their customer service. My luck had been pretty good and their cellular coverage really is, by far, the best in terms of area. That’s important when you spend as much time on the road as I do.

      But today was my day to have my mom’s experience with AT&T’s customer service. My god. It was unbelievably awful. They’re really hopeless. I might write about it, but definitely not tonight. And maybe not ever because this was not an experience worth reliving.

      I am no longer an AT&T customer. I ported the number over to Google Fi. Also I now use the Verizon number with Signal instead of what was the AT&T number. See my revised contact information.


Elon Musk

Elon Musk’s bizarre fixation on colonizing Mars continues,[11] as does the criticism.[12] Really, he’s just another entitled rich man.[13]

Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/


Donald Trump

At the Times (of London), Sarah Baxter thinks Donald Trump’s moment may have passed, even as Trumpsters go wild at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She has bad news for his offspring as well.[14]


Fig. 1. Reproduction of poster, via Relational Implicit, “Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it,” September 2020, fair use.

I still see a few Trump campaign banners, even the occasional flag, around southwestern Pennsylvania. And that image of Trump’s fat head of grievance—Trumpsters apparently interpret his expression as that of determination and toughness—grafted on Sylvester Stallone’s body, portraying him as Rambo (figure 1), sears my memory. It’s not like these folks would vote against him or his kin. But Baxter thinks it’s that Trump lost control of the White House and the Senate and that even Trumpsters are tiring of the flak.[15]

Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/


  1. [1]Deb Erdley, “Toomey censure remains on hold with Pennsylvania Republicans,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 27, 2021, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/toomey-censure-remains-on-hold-with-pennsylvania-republicans/
  2. [2]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  3. [3]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  4. [4]Ben Sales, “CPAC denies its stage was a Nazi symbol, as host hotel calls the symbol ‘abhorrent,’” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/cpac-denies-its-stage-was-a-nazi-symbol-as-host-hotel-calls-the-symbol-abhorrent
  5. [5]Laura E. Adkins and Emily Burack, “Neo-Nazis, QAnon and Camp Auschwitz: A guide to the hate symbols and signs on display at the Capitol riots,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 7, 2021, https://www.jta.org/2021/01/07/united-states/hate-on-display-your-guide-to-the-symbols-and-signs-on-display-at-the-stop-the-count-insurrection; Anne Quito and Amanda Shendruk, “Decoding the flags and banners seen at the Capitol Hill insurrection,” Quartz, January 7, 2021, https://qz.com/1953366/decoding-the-pro-trump-insurrectionist-flags-and-banners/
  6. [6]Felicia Sonmez et al., “White House withdraws Tanden nomination; Biden says U.S. will have enough vaccine doses for every adult by end of May,” Washington Post, March 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/03/02/joe-biden-live-updates/
  7. [7]Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/; Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801; Holly Otterbein, “Bernieworld seethes over Tanden as OMB nominee,” Politico, November 30, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/30/bernie-supporters-seethes-neera-tanden-441603; Tyler Pager, “The jockeying to replace Neera Tanden has begun,” Politico, February 20, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/20/neera-tanden-omb-replacement-470424; Jeff Stein, Annie Linskey, and Seung Min Kim, “Biden’s pick to lead White House budget office emerges as lightning rod for GOP,” Washington Post, November 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/11/30/biden-omb-neera-tanden/
  8. [8]Simon Chandler, “Google Pixel 5 vs. Pixel 4 XL: Should you upgrade?” Digital Trends, October 27, 2021, https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/google-pixel-5-vs-pixel-4-xl/
  9. [9]Matthew Beedham, “Uber: Is this the beginning of the end for the ride-hailing Goliath?” Next Web, March 2, 2021, https://thenextweb.com/shift/2021/03/02/uber-is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-the-ride-hailing-goliath/
  10. [10]Jason Wilson, “US militia group draws members from military and police, website leak shows,” Guardian, March 3, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/us-militia-membership-military-police-american-patriot-three-percenter-website-leak
  11. [11]Tristan Greene, “Here’s the stupid reason Elon Musk wants to nuke Mars,” Next Web, August 16, 2019, https://thenextweb.com/distract/2019/08/16/heres-the-stupid-reason-elon-musk-wants-to-nuke-mars/; Rafi Letzter, “Why NASA’s Annoyed About Elon Musk’s Giant Rocket,” Live Science, October 5, 2019, https://www.livescience.com/starship-crew-dragon-spacex-nasa-bridenstine.html
  12. [12]Samantha Rolfe, “Elon Musk’s Starship may be more moral catastrophe than bold step in space exploration,” Science X, October 2, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-10-elon-musk-starship-moral-catastrophe.html; Shannon Stirone, “Mars Is a Hellhole,” Atlantic, February 26, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/mars-is-no-earth/618133/
  13. [13]David Benfell, “Elon Musk, groan, again,” Not Housebroken, April 4, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/22/elon-musk-groan-again/
  14. [14]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz
  15. [15]Sarah Baxter, “Bad news for Donald Trump Jr: the right is fast tiring of Trumps,” Times, February 28, 2021, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/bad-news-for-donald-trump-jr-the-right-is-fast-tiring-of-trumps-msm9phdcz

Not looking so tough against the climate crisis (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 25, 2021, 11:15 pm.
  2. February 26, 2021, 10:48 am:
    • It had taken much too long to write yesterday’s blog post entitled, “‘Us’ versus ‘them,’” and I needed to get out the door. This morning I made some modest revisions, including adding a footnote. This didn’t quite seem to merit marking as an update to the post so I instead changed the publication date, which changes the URL. I have revised it here.

There is a new blog post entitled, “‘Us’ versus ‘them.’” Something that’s worth noting here is that I had previously embraced the view of a number of authors that prehistoric humans had lived more in harmony with their environment and with each other than we do today.[1] I’m backing off from that some.[2]


Chimpanzees

Kyoto University, “Chimpanzees unite against a common enemy,” Phys.org, February 24, 2021, https://phys.org/news/2021-02-chimpanzees-common-enemy.html


Climate crisis

Chris Mooney and Andrew Freedman, “Scientists see stronger evidence of slowing Atlantic Ocean circulation, an ‘Achilles’ heel’ of the climate,” Washington Post, February 25, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/02/25/atlantic-ocean-currents-weakening-amoc-gulf-stream/


War crimes


  1. [1]John H. Bodley, Victims of Progress, 5th ed. (Lanham, MD, Altamira, 2008); William J. Burroughs, Climate Change in Prehistory (Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University, 2008); Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1995); Max Oelschlaeger, The Idea of Wilderness (New Haven, CT: Yale University, 1991).
  2. [2]David Benfell, “‘Us’ versus ‘them,’” Not Housebroken, February 26, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/26/us-versus-them/

Complicity again. Always complicity.

Pittsburgh

It has to be said that there is a stark contrast to be observed in the area immediately around the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) and Carnegie-Mellon and pretty much anywhere else even in the Oakland neighborhood, let alone the rest of Pittsburgh. The outside appearance—I haven’t had a chance to explore inside either university—at these schools is of prosperous institutions against the backdrop of a city with decidedly more mixed fortunes. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and its several hospitals are, of course, a part of that prosperous appearance and Ed Gainey is challenging a discrepancy that Bill Peduto acquiesced to.[1]

Tom Davidson, “Ed Gainey floats plan to resume battle with UPMC as mayoral candidates tout endorsements,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 23, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/ed-gainey-floats-plan-to-resume-battle-with-upmc-as-mayoral-candidates-tout-endorsements/


Postal Service

Bill DeJoy’s record as postmaster-general makes him look like Donald Trump’s henchman[2] in the context of an effort to overturn election results that culminated in the U.S. Capitol coup attempt.[3] But even if he isn’t, there would need to be a much stronger argument for his retention than I’ve seen. Nonetheless, and really rather consistent with their decision to turn what had been a strong case for Trump’s impeachment into a farce,[4] many Democrats are considering it.[5] Why? There isn’t really a coherent explanation here except that Democrats really, deep in their hearts, don’t oppose Republicans, including Trump.[6]

Once again, we’re seeing a real asymmetry between Republican attitudes toward Democrats and Democratic attitudes toward Republicans that profoundly undermines a notion of polarization purely along partisan lines such as Ezra Klein adopts as a premise in his understanding of polarization.[7]

Kristen Holmes and Manu Raju, “Democrats now at odds over whether to immediately seek postmaster general’s ouster,” CNN, February 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/24/politics/postmaster-general-dejoy-democrats/index.html


  1. [1]Tom Davidson, “Ed Gainey floats plan to resume battle with UPMC as mayoral candidates tout endorsements,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 23, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/ed-gainey-floats-plan-to-resume-battle-with-upmc-as-mayoral-candidates-tout-endorsements/
  2. [2]Colby Bermel, “Judge orders USPS to reverse mail collection limits now,” Politico, October 27, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/10/27/postal-service-mail-collection-433112; Jacob Bogage, “DeJoy’s Postal Service policies delayed 7 percent of nation’s first-class mail, Senate Democrat’s report says,” Washington Post, September 16, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/09/16/dejoy-usps-delays-senate-report/; Jacob Bogage and Christopher Ingraham, “USPS data shows thousands of mailed ballots missed Election Day deadlines,” Washington Post, November 4, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/11/03/election-ballot-delays-usps/; Alvin Chang, “Judge orders US Postal Service to take ‘extraordinary measures’ to deliver ballots on time,” Guardian, November 2, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/02/us-postal-service-election-mail-ballots-delays-judge-extraordinary-measures; Erin Cox et al., “Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots,” Washington Post, August 14, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/usps-states-delayed-mail-in-ballots/2020/08/14/64bf3c3c-dcc7-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html; Jessica Dean, Jessica Schneider, and Caroline Kelly, “Postal Service says it has ‘ample capacity’ to handle election after Trump casts doubt,” CNN, August 3, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/03/politics/postal-service-ample-capacity-election-trump/index.html; Colleen Flynn and Evan Kruegel, “TRO against USPS granted in lawsuit filed by Colo. Sec. of State Jena Griswold,” KDVR, September 12, 2020, https://kdvr.com/news/tro-against-usps-granted-in-lawsuit-filed-by-colo-sec-of-state-jena-griswold/; Amy Gardner and Erin Cox, “At least 21 states plan to sue the Postal Service over service delays, threat to election,” Washington Post, August 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/at-least-20-states-plan-to-sue-the-us-postal-service-over-service-delays-threat-to-election/2020/08/18/c6ca2dc6-e166-11ea-b69b-64f7b0477ed4_story.html; Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, and Paul Kane, “Trump opposes election aid for states and Postal Service bailout, threatening Nov. 3 vote,” Washington Post, August 13, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-mail-voting/2020/08/13/3eb9ac62-dd70-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html; Kristen Holmes and Paul P. Murphy, “USPS email tells managers not to reconnect sorting machines,” CNN, August 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/20/politics/usps-reconnect-sorting-machines/index.html; Jake Johnson, “Condemning ‘Attempt at Voter Suppression,’ Colorado Sues DeJoy Over Misleading Postal Service Mailers,” Common Dreams, September 12, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/09/12/condemning-attempt-voter-suppression-colorado-sues-dejoy-over-misleading-postal; Maya Lau and Laura J. Nelson, “Judge orders sweep of postal facilities for leftover ballots,” Los Angeles Times, November 3, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-11-03/judge-orders-sweep-of-postal-facilities-for-leftover-ballots; Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Jacob Bogage, “Postal Service backlog sparks worries that ballot delivery could be delayed in November,” Washington Post, July 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/postal-service-backlog-sparks-worries-that-ballot-delivery-could-be-delayed-in-november/2020/07/30/cb19f1f4-d1d0-11ea-8d32-1ebf4e9d8e0d_story.html; Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, and Ashley Parker, “Tracing Trump’s Postal Service obsession — from ‘loser’ to ‘scam’ to ‘rigged election,’” Washington Post, August 15, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-post-office-mail-vote/2020/08/15/27a2ffd4-de5f-11ea-809e-b8be57ba616e_story.html; Veronica Stracqualursi and Jessica Dean, “New postal policies that are slowing service may affect 2020 mail-in voting, union leader says,” CNN, July 31, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/31/politics/usps-mail-in-voting-2020-election/index.html; Elise Viebeck and Jacob Bogage, “Federal judge temporarily blocks USPS operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns, election,” Washington Post, September 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/federal-judge-issues-temporary-injunction-against-usps-operational-changes-amid-concerns-about-mail-slowdowns/2020/09/17/34fb85a0-f91e-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html; Paul Ziobro, Natalie Andrews, and Alexa Corse, “Postmaster to Suspend USPS Changes Until After Election,” Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/postmaster-general-dejoy-to-testify-before-senate-panel-friday-11597758378; Henry Zeffman, “Flood of postal votes threatens US election chaos,” Times, July 20, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/flood-of-postal-votes-threatens-us-presidential-election-chaos-bzdvfb65h; Henry Zeffman, “President Trump might appear to have won at first on election night, Democrat poll warns,” Times, September 9, 2020, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/world/president-trump-might-appear-to-have-won-at-first-on-election-night-democrat-poll-warns-2rv66dqxm
  3. [3]Steve Almond, “The GOP’s Final Act In A Long Public Surrender,” WBUR, February 13, 2021, https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2021/02/13/donald-trump-impeachment-insurrection-gop-mcconnell-acquittal-steve-almond; Dan Balz, “All eyes on Republican senators after strong presentation by House managers,” Washington Post, February 12, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/balztake-impeachment-gop-trump/2021/02/11/7b910ee8-6cc0-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; David Benfell, “Riot or insurrection? Lies or madness?” Not Housebroken, January 22, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/01/12/riot-or-insurrection-lies-or-madness/; Andrew Desiderio, Burgess Everett, and Marianne Levine, “Trump on path to acquittal despite stunning evidence,” Politico, February 11, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/10/trump-acquittal-despite-stunning-evidence-468540; Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992; Burgess Everett and Marianne Levine, “Senate GOP gripped by conviction vote intrigue,” Politico, February 12, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/12/republicans-weighting-conviction-trump-impeachment-468862; Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html; Amy Gardner et al., “House impeachment managers emphasize the danger to Pence and other top officials in harrowing retelling of Jan. 6 attack,” Washington Post, February 10, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/senate-impeachment-trial-trump/2021/02/10/17863674-6bbe-11eb-9f80-3d7646ce1bc0_story.html; Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “What’s at Stake in Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial,” New Yorker, February 7, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/15/whats-at-stake-in-trumps-second-impeachment-trial; Amy Davidson Sorkin, “Trump’s Impeachment-Trial Lawyers Refuse to Seriously Engage with the Constitutional Issues,” New Yorker, February 10, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/trumps-impeachment-trial-lawyers-refuse-to-seriously-engage-with-the-constitutional-issues
  4. [4]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992
  5. [5]Kristen Holmes and Manu Raju, “Democrats now at odds over whether to immediately seek postmaster general’s ouster,” CNN, February 24, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/24/politics/postmaster-general-dejoy-democrats/index.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/
  7. [7]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).

It’s gotta be satire, right? The “Way of the the Future Church” worshipped artificial idiocy. (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 23, 2021, 10:02 am.
  2. February 23, 2021, 11:57 am:

Pandemic

As of this morning the death toll from COVID-19 had passed 500,000, reaching 500,103.[1]


Artificial idiocy

This is satire, right? I had not been aware that Anthony Levandowski, who was the central figure in the dispute between Uber and Waymo over self-driving car technology, and who was pardoned by Donald Trump for stealing trade secrets from Waymo, had founded a church worshipping artificial intelligence idiocy. He dissolved it and donated its funds to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Legal Defense and Education Fund.[2] I explain artificial idiocy in a blog post entitled, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining.” Everything I’ve heard and experienced, including that tangle with Twitter’s artificial idiots, since writing that post only reinforces it, however the technology is being used in combination with networking to impressive effect with traffic signals in the Pittsburgh area.[3]

But here’s the thing: A statistical approach that constitutes artificial idiocy[4] probably is the best that can be done to improve traffic flow. Controls here will never be perfect and the Wall Street Journal headline about eliminating traffic congestion[5] exaggerates. The downside is minimal: In a vast majority of cases, the statistical approach will yield a benefit. In the minority, the effect is unlikely to be worse than with uncoordinated signals. Nobody’s going to die waiting for a red light, certainly any more than they do now.


  1. [1]New York Times, “Coronavirus in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count,” February 23, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html
  2. [2]Anthony Levandowski, “The former Uber exec who was pardoned by Trump has closed his church that worshipped AI, donating its funds to the NAACP,” Business Insider, February 19, 2021, https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-google-ai-anthony-levandowski-trump-pardon-church-naacp-2021-2
  3. [3]Henry Williams, “Artificial Intelligence May Make Traffic Congestion a Thing of the Past,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/artificial-intelligence-may-make-traffic-congestion-a-thing-of-the-past-1530043151
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Our new Satan: artificial idiocy and big data mining,” Not Housebroken, February 20, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/01/13/our-new-satan-artificial-idiocy-and-big-data-mining/
  5. [5]Henry Williams, “Artificial Intelligence May Make Traffic Congestion a Thing of the Past,” Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/artificial-intelligence-may-make-traffic-congestion-a-thing-of-the-past-1530043151

Making your children miserable (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 21, 10:23 am.

  2. February 21, 2021, 11:48 pm:

    • So I’m finally able to check in with my Trumpster in Duquesne (figure 1):


      Fig. 1. Photograph by author, February 21, 2021.

      This actually appeared pretty quickly as Donald Trump was banned from social media.[1] But yeah, s/he gets to say s/he told me so, as yes, I thought of this sign when I had my tangle with Twitter’s artificial idiots.

    • In a deathbed confession, a cop admitted that police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were involved in the murder of Malcolm X.[2]

    • The San Francisco Board of Education is backing down from its decision to rename schools and will focus on reopening schools instead.[3] I criticized the renaming decision in a recent blog post,[4] but I was far from alone.[5]

  3. February 22, 2021, 6:09 am:

  4. February 22, 2021, 10:18 pm:

    • I see ‘comity’ as hypocrisy so it certainly isn’t the argument I’d make against Neera Tanden though it seems to be the one that’s sinking her.[6] I’d argue instead that she is a neoliberal[7] when neoliberalism has been disastrous anyway,[8] but especially in the pandemic.[9] That said, her nomination is underwater and going down.[10] In my recollection, the way this usually happens is that a doomed nominee will concoct some excuse about not wanting to distract from the president’s agenda as s/he withdraws from consideration. Look for that to happen real soon.


K-12 education

There is a new blog post entitled, “How neoliberalism ruins primary school education.”

Donna Ferguson, “Home schooling: ‘I’m a maths lecturer – and I had to get my children to teach me,’” Guardian, February 20, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/feb/20/im-a-maths-lecturer-and-i-had-to-get-my-children-to-teach-me

Greg Keraghosian, “SF school board pauses renaming 44 schools, promises to consult historians in future,” SFGate, February 21, 2021, https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/SF-school-board-pauses-renaming-44-schools-15968504.php


Capitol coup

Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “9 Oath Keepers charged with sweeping conspiracy for role in Capitol insurrection,” Politico, February 19, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/19/oath-keepers-capitol-insurrection-470308



Malcolm X

Al Jazeera, “US: Ex-policeman implicates NYPD, FBI in Malcolm X murder,” February 21, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/21/ex-new-york-policeman-implicates-nypd-and-fbi-in-malcolm-x-murder


Texas

Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Ivan Penn, “His Lights Stayed on During Texas’ Storm. Now He Owes $16,752,” New York Times, February 20, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/20/us/texas-storm-electric-bills.html

Reis Thebault, Paulina Firozi, and Brittany Shammas, “58 people died in last week’s frigid weather. Some of them were just trying to stay warm,” Washington Post, February 21, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/02/18/winter-storm-deaths/


Joe Biden

Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801


  1. [1]Margi Murphy, “Facebook, Instagram and Twitter lock Donald Trump’s accounts after praise for Capitol Hill rioters,” Telegraph, January 7, 2021, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2021/01/06/calls-twitter-facebook-mute-donald-trump-violence-breaks-capitol/; Tony Romm and Elizabeth Dwoskin, “Trump banned from Facebook indefinitely, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says,” Washington Post, January 7, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-resignations-25th-amendment/2021/01/07/e131ce10-50a3-11eb-bda4-615aaefd0555_story.html; Nitasha Tiku, Tony Romm, and Craig Timberg, “Twitter bans Trump’s account, citing risk of further violence,” Washington Post, January 8, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/01/08/twitter-trump-dorsey/
  2. [2]Al Jazeera, “US: Ex-policeman implicates NYPD, FBI in Malcolm X murder,” February 21, 2021, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/21/ex-new-york-policeman-implicates-nypd-and-fbi-in-malcolm-x-murder
  3. [3]Greg Keraghosian, “SF school board pauses renaming 44 schools, promises to consult historians in future,” SFGate, February 21, 2021, https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/SF-school-board-pauses-renaming-44-schools-15968504.php
  4. [4]David Benfell, “It’s fine to highlight other people. But don’t cite historical falsehoods when you do,” Not Housebroken, February 6, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2021/02/06/its-fine-to-highlight-other-people-but-dont-cite-historical-falsehoods-when-you-do/
  5. [5]Isaac Chotiner, “How San Francisco Renamed Its Schools,” New Yorker, February 6, 2021, https://www.newyorker.com/news/q-and-a/how-san-francisco-renamed-its-schools; Greg Keraghosian, “SF school board pauses renaming 44 schools, promises to consult historians in future,” SFGate, February 21, 2021, https://www.sfgate.com/local/article/SF-school-board-pauses-renaming-44-schools-15968504.php
  6. [6]Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801
  7. [7]Jake Johnson, “Progressives Spurn Tanden’s Nomination to Office of Management and Budget,” Truthout, November 30, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/progressives-spurn-tandens-nomination-to-office-of-management-and-budget/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “A piper needs paying,” Not Housebroken, January 29, 2021, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/19/a-piper-needs-paying/; Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); David Fickling, “The Gig Economy Compromised Our Immune System,” Yahoo!, July 25, 2020, https://finance.yahoo.com/news/gig-economy-compromised-immune-system-000048670.html; Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017, https://jacobinmag.com/2017/03/fiscal-conservative-social-services-austerity-save-money; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019, https://newint.org/features/2019/07/01/long-read-progress-and-its-discontents; Daniel Stedman Jones, Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University, 2012); Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Dennis Loo, Globalization and the Demolition of Society (Glendale, CA: Larkmead, 2011); Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik and Simon Wren-Lewis, “Austerity Has Failed: An Open Letter From Thomas Piketty to Angela Merkel,” Nation, July 6, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/austerity-has-failed-an-open-letter-from-thomas-piketty-to-angela-merkel/; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/13/opinion/how-austerity-kills.html; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/19/paul_krugmans_right_austerity_kills/
  9. [9]David Benfell, “Imagine a malicious elite,” Not Housebroken, December 30, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/12/18/imagine-a-malicious-elite/
  10. [10]Marianne Levine and Burgess Everett, “Collins and Romney to oppose Tanden for OMB, further jeopardizing her nomination,” Politico, February 22, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/22/collins-oppose-tanden-jeopardize-nomination-470801

Artificial idiocy ethics researchers would be well-advised to steer well clear of Google employment

Google

There is a new blog post entitled, “Having already fucked up in ousting an ethics researcher, Google doubles down.”

Mitchell Clark and Zoe Schiffer, “After firing a top AI ethicist, Google is changing its diversity and research policies,” Verge, February 19, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/19/22291631/google-diversity-research-policy-changes-timnet-gebru-firing

Ina Fried, “Google tweaks diversity, research policies following inquiry,” Axios, February 19, 2021, https://www.axios.com/google-tweaks-diversity-research-policies-following-inquiry-8baa6346-d2a2-456f-9743-7912e4659ca2.html

Alex Hanna, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, February 18, 2021, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1362476196693303297.html

Zoe Schiffer, “Google fires second AI ethics researcher following internal investigation,” Verge, February 19, 2021, https://www.theverge.com/2021/2/19/22292011/google-second-ethical-ai-researcher-fired


Rest In Piss (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 18, 2021, 3:32 pm.

  2. February 19, 2021, 12:48 am:

    • In one the very regrettable jokes of my childhood, Gomer Pyle, a goofy private in the Marine Corps in a very old television series, asks his girl friend for permission to put his finger in her belly button.

      After a pause, she says, “That’s not my belly button!”

      The punch line begins with Pyle using his signature line, “Surprise! Surprise!” He continues, “That isn’t my finger either!”

      Okay, so you probably saw that one coming a mile away and it shouldn’t be considered funny because we’re talking about nonconsensual sex.

      And how Pyle’s girl friend would feel, at least in the modern world when such behavior would constitute rape, is probably about how a lot of California Uber and Lyft drivers feel about California’s Proposition 22: They were screwed.[1] Even as other employers have been looking at the proposition and thinking to themselves what a wonderful idea this is so they, too, can get rid of employees, minimum wage, and benefits.[2]

      How about you all just admit you’d really like to get slavery back?

      I’m in Pennsylvania now, but at least so far this year, with the costs I’m facing, I’m not making any money at all.


Rush Limbaugh

Just so we know where Binyamin Netanyahu stands:


Seriously, this is right up there with that vegan restaurant, Fortuitea, in North Strabane, run by a Jewish family whose patriarch, I learned with his reaction to COVID-19 mitigation orders, gets his information from the same sources as blatantly anti-Semitic white supremacists. It had been my favorite restaurant, albeit a long ways out, in the Pittsburgh area, but some stuff you just can’t excuse.

Look, I know that not all Jews are like this. Consider, for example, Michael Lerner and many others I follow on Twitter, who criticize Israeli policies in the occupied territories. But just as whites need to reckon with white supremacy, Jews need to reckon with apartheid. And, frankly, white Jews need to reckon with both.

It’s not enough to quietly oppose racism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression with friends and colleagues. Silence is complicity. These attitudes cannot be excused, cannot be dismissed. They must be loudly repudiated. And we all must repudiate them.


I have a lot of reverence for my maternal grandfather. In a life full of trauma, being with him was the one place where I felt safe. It’s a factor that even now draws me back to Dormont, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

When I went to visit in my twenties, I remember my grandfather sitting at the dining room table, listening to talk radio. My mother tells me he became even more conservative as he aged, that he was racist. I know my grandmother was racist. She embarassed me by using the word colored on a trip to Pittsburgh’s Point State Park, explaining that “we” used to call them—she used the n-word. So I have little reason to doubt my mother’s account.

I don’t know if my grandfather ever heard Rush Limbaugh. But Limbaugh was certainly a part of the ecosystem from which the “Fox News Bubble” developed.[3] He was genuinely and inexcusably awful,[4] and he had an understanding of the authoritarian populist victimhood[5] that seems to drive the “Fuck Your Feelings” and “Make a Liberal Cry” Trumpster ethos.[6]


Texas

When the power came on amid rolling blackouts, Andrew Exum’s “wife—a tough woman, and a water and sanitation engineer by training—climbed under the house and thawed out a pipe with a blow-dryer.”[7]

Andrew Exum, “I’m Freezing Cold and Burning Mad in Texas,” Atlantic, February 17, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/freezing-cold-and-burning-mad-texas/618048/

Will Englund, Steven Mufson, and Dino Grandoni, “Texas, the go-it-alone state, is rattled by the failure to keep the lights on,” Washington Post, February 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/02/18/texas-electric-grid-failure/

Greg Sargent, “The latest GOP nonsense on Texas shows us the future Republicans want,” Washington Post, February 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/02/18/texas-republicans-abbott-power-shortages/


Genetics

In the category of how I’m weird, it turns out that my intolerance for physical exercise might be related to my relative tolerance for cold.[8]

Karolinska Institutet, “20% of People Have a Genetic Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold,” SciTechDaily, February 17, 2021, https://scitechdaily.com/20-of-people-have-a-genetic-mutation-that-provides-superior-resilience-to-cold/


Gig work

José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686


  1. [1]José Rodríguez, Jr., “The Aftermath Of Prop 22 Is Not As Happy As Big Tech Promised,” Jalopnik, February 18, 2021, https://jalopnik.com/the-aftermath-of-prop-22-is-not-as-happy-as-big-tech-pr-1846299686
  2. [2]Alexander Sammon, “Prop 22 Is Here, and It’s Already Worse Than Expected,” American Prospect, January 15, 2021, https://prospect.org/labor/prop-22-is-here-already-worse-than-expected-california-gig-workers/
  3. [3]Matt Gertz, “Rush Limbaugh’s bigotry set the stage for Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party,” Media Matters for America, February 17, 2021, https://www.mediamatters.org/rush-limbaugh/rush-limbaughs-bigotry-set-stage-trumps-takeover-republican-party; Jeffrey P Jones, [tweet], February 17, 2021, https://twitter.com/DrJeffreyPJones/status/1362097963934302210
  4. [4]Bob Baker, “What’s the Rush?: Radio Loudmouth Rush Limbaugh Harangues Feminazis, Environmental Wackos and Commie-Libs While His Ratings Soar,” Los Angeles Times, January 20, 1991, https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-01-20-tm-836-story.html
  5. [5]Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter With Kansas? (New York: Holt, 2004); Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire (New York: Holt, 2012); Rush Limbaugh, “What Palin’s Trump Speech Says About the State of the Conservative Movement,” Rush Limbaugh Show, January 20, 2016, https://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2016/01/20/what_palin_s_trump_speech_says_about_the_state_of_the_conservative_movement/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The Donald Trump supporters’ campaign message: Fuck Your Feelings,” Not Housebroken, December 11, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/26/the-donald-trump-supporters-campaign-message-fuck-your-feelings/
  7. [7]Andrew Exum, “I’m Freezing Cold and Burning Mad in Texas,” Atlantic, February 17, 2021, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/02/freezing-cold-and-burning-mad-texas/618048/
  8. [8]Karolinska Institutet, “20% of People Have a Genetic Mutation That Provides Superior Resilience to Cold,” SciTechDaily, February 17, 2021, https://scitechdaily.com/20-of-people-have-a-genetic-mutation-that-provides-superior-resilience-to-cold/

The GameStop Squeeze looks like a classic pump-and-dump scam

I am expecting to be stuck at home tomorrow. As I understand it, the storm that hit Texas is expected here and no, I’m not taking it on.


Allegheny County

To give you an idea what kind of an area I live in, and indeed, one reason I probably really should move, I remember driving down Brownsville Road, just off Pennsylvania Route 51, one day and seeing unmasked Trumpsters coming from every direction. They were walking to a restaurant across the street from the Giant Eagle, which has been making quite a name for itself. It’s only a couple miles away from my apartment.

Today, the judge in the case of the Crack’d Egg Restaurant refused[1] to stay his order requiring the restaurant to either comply with COVID-19 mitigation orders or shut down.[2] Refusing to require face masks, the owner shut the restaurant down[3] and sought a stay pending appeal.[4] The restaurant had previously sought to evade the case by filing bankruptcy, but, accepting Allegheny County’s argument,[5] the bankruptcy judge refused that ploy,[6] and the restaurant has asked to withdraw the filing.[7] Not only had local law enforcement refused to enforce the restrictions even as the restaurant had brazenly flouted them, but unmasked officers posed with the owner in photographs.[8]

Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/


GameStop Squeeze

The GameStop Squeeze is looking more and more like a classic pump-and-dump scam.[9] Some folks—and I don’t mean the hedge funds[10]—really got burned.[11] Keith Gill, a.k.a. “Roaring Kitty,” denies the allegation.[12]

Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg restaurant: ‘They’ve largely chosen their fate here,’” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-restaurant-theyve-largely-chosen-their-fate-here/
  2. [2]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge orders Crack’d Egg to follow covid rules or close,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 3, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-orders-crackd-egg-to-follow-covid-rules-or-close/
  3. [3]Paul Martino, “After Defying Health Department, Crack’d Egg Follows Judge’s Ruling And Closes,” KDKA Television, February 4, 2021, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/02/04/crackd-egg-closes/
  4. [4]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg seeks stay to injunction while appeal is heard,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 8, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-seeks-stay-to-injunction-while-appeal-is-heard/
  5. [5]Paula Reed Ward, “Allegheny County argues Crack’d Egg can’t hide from covid restrictions under bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 5, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/allegheny-county-argues-crackd-egg-cant-hide-from-covid-restrictions-under-bankruptcy-filing/
  6. [6]Paula Reed Ward, “Judge rules against Crack’d Egg, health department case can proceed,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, January 7, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/judge-rules-against-crackd-egg-health-department-case-can-proceed/
  7. [7]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg restaurant asks to withdraw bankruptcy filing,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 2, 2021, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-restaurant-asks-to-withdraw-bankruptcy-filing/
  8. [8]Paula Reed Ward, “Crack’d Egg flouts shutdown as deputies quarantined for dining, taking photos with owner,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/crackd-egg-flouts-shutdown-as-deputies-quarantined-for-dining-taking-photos-with-owner/
  9. [9]Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise
  10. [10]Cory Doctorow, “Understanding /r/wallstreetbets,” Pluralistic, January 28, 2021, https://pluralistic.net/2021/01/28/payment-for-order-flow/#wallstreetbets; Matt Phillips and Taylor Lorenz, “‘Dumb Money’ Is on GameStop, and It’s Beating Wall Street at Its Own Game,” New York Times, January 27, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/business/gamestop-wall-street-bets.html; Sujata Rao, “Losses on short positions in U.S. firms top $70 billion – Ortex data,” Reuters, January 28, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-retail-trading-shortbets-idUSKBN29X1SW
  11. [11]Drew Harwell, “As GameStop stock crumbles, newbie traders reckon with heavy losses,” Washington Post, February 2, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/02/02/gamestop-stock-plunge-losers/
  12. [12]Christian Berthelsen, “‘Roaring Kitty’ Sued for Securities Fraud Over GameStop Rise,” Bloomberg, February 17, 2021, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/-roaring-kitty-sued-for-securities-fraud-over-gamestop-rise

Stupid ‘gullible’ idiots (Update #3)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 15, 2021, 2:16 pm.

  2. February 15, 2021, 5:57 pm:

  3. February 16, 2021, 4:13 am:

    • This is what I’ve been staying the fuck out of:

      Basically, what the graph is showing is that at a particular altitude where the rain is originating, the temperature is above freezing. It’s been mostly below freezing at ground level, however, for at least a couple of weeks now. So that rain hits the surface and, unless that surface has been adequately salted recently enough, freezes. Something like this likely yielded my slip-and-fall the other day. (I’m feeling a lot better today, but still not completely back to normal.)

      My Whole Foods delivery driver was undeterred. It took her longer than expected, which I completely understand and absolutely do not blame her for, and she bravely delivered my groceries regardless. Bless her heart, but Whole Foods Market’s stocking just keeps being unbelievably awful.[1] There are only a few things I can still get this way.

    • I’ve pressed on in Ezra Klein’s book, Why We’re Polarized,[2] The more useful parts, frankly, are in the second half, where he actually, probably without intending to, explains why the Democratic Party looks like an indistinct blob from the Republican Party to folks on my end of the spectrum. The Republicans, he argues, have become more ideologically and racially homogenous, while Democrats include everybody from the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to the likes of Joe Manchin and are both ideologically and racially diverse.[3] The reality remains more complicated, as I explain in my dissertation,[4] but one of the more curious aspects of Donald Trump’s presidency is that he actually managed to offer something to everybody within that coalition. Democrats, according to Klein, actually have to reach well into the right to be elected, in part because land counts for more than people with the electoral college and the construction of the Senate, and to accomplish anything.[5]

      People like me who actually need actual results will not be mollified. I need a real job[6] and am not interested in the compromises Democrats are willing to make because they aren’t solving my problem. These compromises also aren’t solving health care, even in a pandemic, or the climate crisis, or the carceral state, or police killings, or the drug war, or migration, or economic injustice. Klein fails to see that the Democrats are too ready to sacrifice the Left—this is not just ideology we’re talking about here, but real people with real grievances whose lives are often at stake—and risk losing that end of the spectrum. My Twitter feed is full of people who are fed up with the bipartisan duopoly.

    • source on threadreaderapp.com
      Archived at 2021-02-16 03:54:00

      David Benfell, Ph.D. Profile picture

      David Benfell, Ph.D.

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      Twitter logo

      16 Feb, 9 tweets, 4 min read

      Bookmark Save as PDF My Authors

      1/9 In a little more than a month, I’ll start looking for another place to live for a few reasons. One place I know I won’t be looking is in @Pittsburgh. The roads aren’t maintained and don’t get plowed, firefighters are begging on the streets.

      2/9 But the mayor, @billpeduto, yammers about bicycles (@Pittsburgh is generally much too hilly for bicycling and I see very few people even on the electric bicycles that are available all around Oakland) and his corporate connections.

      3/9 @billpeduto is more worried about moving the Zone 5 #WhiteSupremacist (@PghPolice) headquarters back into the ’hood.

      4/9 @Pittsburgh takes care of business, if by business, you mean high tech artificial idiocy that draws people in from out of town to push up *some* real estate values.

      5/9 @Pittsburgh takes care of business, if by business, you mean drunken college students doing stupid shit in the South Side and restaurants where only the rich can afford to eat in neighborhoods where there’s no parking available.

      6/9 @Pittsburgh does *not* take care of business if you are poor or working class. But hey, there’s this urban connector project so people will be able walk between a now-deserted downtown and @PPGPaintsArena.

      7/9 If @billpeduto has a clue what it’s like to be poor or working class, you couldn’t tell it from his tweets, which are all about (corporate) “partnerships that produce change.” What change?

      8/9 Homewood, Lincoln-Lemington, and Larimer are all a short walk from Point Breeze, where @billpeduto lives. If he’s ever even been in those neighborhoods, you couldn’t tell. The mayor’s solution is trickle-down.

      9/9 There are a lot of @Pittsburgh neighborhoods that have seen plenty of trickle-down, as in the rich pissing on the poor. That’s pretty clearly what @billpeduto is about. And the man has the gall to run for re-election. Wow.

      I’m actually thinking about my grandparents’ old neighborhood in Dormont. If—and this is a very big if—I can afford it.


Republicans

There is a new blog post entitled, “Why we won’t defang right-wing extremism.”

Ronald Brownstein, “Is the GOP’s extremist wing now too big to fail?” CNN, February 14, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/14/politics/republican-extremism-trump-impeachment/index.html


Right-wing militia

“We’re seen groups encouraging members to join the military, to get training in weaponry and survival skills,” [Cassie] Miller said. “It’s something that they really value.

“We also know that hate groups and white supremacy groups are actively recruiting military members. If they want to use violence to push the country into a race war, they need people with a knowledge of firearms, explosives and other military skills.”[7]

So it should not, even for a millisecond, be surprising that,

Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Edward Caldwell had a plan leading up to the violent Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol, according to federal prosecutors.

The 66-year-old former Reserve intelligence officer wanted to transport weapons into Washington, D.C., by boat – possibly with three four-man sniper teams who could “go hunting after dark” for “cockroaches who prey on the weak.” That’s according to new court documents that allege Caldwell and other veterans who forcibly busted into the Capitol last month relied on military training to prepare for the breach.[8]

Lawyers are defending accused participants in the January 6, 2021, coup attempt by saying that then-President Donald Trump misled them, that they acted out of patriotism and loyalty rather than criminal intent. Which is to say they were stupid “gullible” idiots.[9] And that shouldn’t be the least bit surprising either. For a few reasons.

Gina Harkins, “Veterans Used Their Military Training to Plot Violence in Capitol Riot, Feds Say,” Military.com, February 15, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/02/15/veterans-used-their-military-training-plot-violence-capitol-riot-feds-say.html


  1. [1]Hayley Peterson, “‘Entire aisles are empty’: Whole Foods employees reveal why stores are facing a crisis of food shortages,” Business Insider, January 18, 2018, https://www.businessinsider.com/whole-foods-employees-reveal-why-stores-are-facing-a-crisis-of-food-shortages-2018-1
  2. [2]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  3. [3]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).
  5. [5]Ezra Klein, Why We’re Polarized (New York: Avid Reader, 2020).
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  7. [7]Leo Shane, III, “Signs of white supremacy, extremism up again in poll of active-duty troops,” Military Times, February 6, 2020, https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2020/02/06/signs-of-white-supremacy-extremism-up-again-in-poll-of-active-duty-troops/
  8. [8]Gina Harkins, “Veterans Used Their Military Training to Plot Violence in Capitol Riot, Feds Say,” Military.com, February 15, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/02/15/veterans-used-their-military-training-plot-violence-capitol-riot-feds-say.html
  9. [9]Gina Harkins, “Veterans Used Their Military Training to Plot Violence in Capitol Riot, Feds Say,” Military.com, February 15, 2021, https://www.military.com/daily-news/2021/02/15/veterans-used-their-military-training-plot-violence-capitol-riot-feds-say.html

Talking about San Francisco, talking about California (Update #4)

Updates

  1. Originally published, February 13, 2021, 12:29 pm.

  2. February 14, 2021, 3:50 am, revised at 11:13 am:

    • I just got home. I had a ride to close enough to Washington, D.C., that I passed Dulles International Airport and signs for the Air and Space Museum on the way. Rides like this seem spectacular, but I wind up driving back empty. By the time I account for operating costs, it isn’t that great a day, and I’m up terribly, terribly late.

    • The text previously here has been moved, edited, and expanded in a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

  3. February 14, 2021, 11:13 am:

    • There is a new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • As I was walking back from the garage where I keep my car to my apartment early this morning, I slipped on ice so slick I was momentarily perplexed by the question of how I would even get up—there was so little traction to be had.

      I’m still hurting this morning, not quite as badly, but still. It’s right on that threshold where I’m wondering if I should be calling a doctor.

      I missed a lot of work and dug deep into my remaining savings replacing tires, struts, and shocks, and then to keep myself afloat while the body shop repaired my car after some idiot backed into it. And it looks like the weather might be bad enough to keep me home tomorrow anyway. Taxes are coming up and I really can’t afford to take more time off.

      And that’s the thing. I’m well aware that this rideshare driving is ultimately unsustainable. The car gets totaled or I get hurt or I just plain get too fucking old to work anymore. I really don’t have the margin to just stop working.

  4. February 14, 2021, 12:29 pm:

    • Politico has more on the Democrats’ flip-flop on witnesses.[1] and I am now citing this in the new blog post entitled, “The second farce.”

    • I feel a little better after a hot shower. I think calling a doctor will not be necessary.

  5. February 14, 2021, 10:14 pm:

    • It looks like I’m going to be hiding out at home tomorrow. A major storm is moving in, predicted to dump prodigious quantities of snow and ice. I’m still recovering from the fall in the wee hours this morning, would prefer not to exacerbate those injuries, and would prefer not to wreck my car.

    • One of the wackier figures in Donald Trump’s orbit is a conspiracy theorist and lawyer, Lin Wood. He has published a complaint from the Georgia State Bar against him that weighs in at over 1,600 pages and requests an evaluation of his mental health. The complaint is marked confidential but Wood is using it to raise funds.[2]


San Francisco

There is a new blog post entitled, “The California nightmare.”

Julia Wick, “Talking San Francisco with the city’s new poet laureate,” Los Angeles Times, February 12, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/california/newsletter/2021-02-12/tongo-eisen-martin-san-francisco-poet-laureate-essential-california


Donald Trump

The Senate voted to call witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment,[3] apparently in response to a story of Trump’s phone call to Kevin McCarthy,[4] then Democrats chickened out.[5]

Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today

David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015


  1. [1]Burgess Everett, Heather Caygle, and Marianne Levine, “Inside Democrats’ witness fiasco,” Politico, February 13, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/13/senate-democrats-impeachment-witnesses-468992
  2. [2]David Cohen, “Georgia State Bar seeking to discipline Lin Wood,” Politico, February 14, 2021, https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/14/lin-wood-georgia-469015
  3. [3]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today
  4. [4]Jamie Gangel et al., “New details about Trump-McCarthy shouting match show Trump refused to call off the rioters,” CNN, February 12, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/12/politics/trump-mccarthy-shouting-match-details/index.html
  5. [5]Jennifer Haberkorn and Evan Halper, “7 Republicans vote guilty, but Senate acquits Trump in attack on Capitol,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2021, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2021-02-13/senators-to-continue-questioning-likely-to-vote-on-impeachment-today