Not washing dishes

Apparently, people in the Pittsburgh area do not wash dishes.

I have gone to multiple places now, in search of 1) a dish rack, 2) various sorts of scrubbing sponges, 3) a silverware tray, and 4) shelf liners. I even broke down and went into Walmart. As near as I can tell, these items are flatly not available in the Pittsburgh area.

In general, shopping here sucks even more—my mother will be shocked—than in California. The Whole Foods Markets are pathetic. Bed Bath and Beyond is missing about half the stuff that their California counterparts carry. Target, likewise.

Meanwhile, The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) puts California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) utterly and absolutely to shame.

California’s DMV has recently been in the news for long wait times. The DMV there has always been bad—I remember long waits when I was getting my first learner’s permit, oh, somewhere around 44 years ago—and it is an art, rather than a science, to find offices with reasonable wait times. I guess it’d gotten worse.

But at least you can go into a DMV office in California with a reasonable assurance that you can accomplish your business. At least until REAL ID came along.

Remember that I drive for Uber and Lyft. I need this shit straightened out. But PennDOT always wants one more thing.

Their website claims you have twenty days to register your car and sixty days to transfer your drivers license. Further, it says, there is nothing stopping you from registering your car while you sort out your drivers license.

The clerks have another story. Even for a non-REAL ID license, they want your physical Social Security card. Social Security numbers can be verified online and indeed when it comes to replacing a lost card, the Social Security Administration thinks you don’t actually need a physical copy.

And you have to have the Pennsylvania drivers license and Pennsylvania automobile insurance (thanks, AAA for not insuring Uber and Lyft drivers—now I get to pay twice as much for insurance) before you can register the car.

But you have to wait for the REAL ID drivers license in the mail.

Further, you will likely have to go to multiple offices in order to accomplish all this. Because some locations sort out the drivers license paperwork, but don’t take the pictures—they issue what’s called a “camera card,” which you may have to take to yet another location to get your picture taken. And then there are offices that deal with vehicle registration. Some of these overlap, with locations serving more than one function, and PennDOT’s website offers a search function where you can specify all that you need to do: There wasn’t an office that does everything I needed to do, at least anywhere near Pittsburgh.

It might be even more complicated than this—I hope not—because this is only my first experience with PennDOT. I’d just about bet that there are more wrinkles yet in store.


Pittsburgh has moved from early to mid-Spring now. Leaves have come in on the trees and the weather has shifted to alternates of hot and muggy with subsequent refreshing rain. Tonight, there is lightning and even a bit of thunder.


Cuba

Deutschewelle, “EU says will respond to controversial US move on Cuba,” May 2, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/eu-says-will-respond-to-controversial-us-move-on-cuba/a-48569649


Facebook

Suhauna Hussain, “Facebook bans Alex Jones and other controversial figures for hate speech,” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-facebook-ban-alex-jones-milo-yiannopoulos-20190502-story.html


Hannah Arendt

Totalitarian states make people into cogs in an administrative machine, [Hannah] Arendt argued, “dehumanizing them.” Worse, she said, this might even be a feature of all modern bureaucracies.[1]

Paul Mason, “Reading Arendt Is Not Enough,” New York Review of Books, May 2, 2019, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/05/02/reading-arendt-is-not-enough/


Uber

Farhad Manjoo, “The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley,” New York Times, May 1, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/01/opinion/uber-ipo.html


Moral Panics

The story of a school newspaper being rebuffed by the school principal and the district superintendent in reporting on a student working in the pornography business[2] would seem to have a happy ending.[3]

The earlier story[4] was confusing about the location of the school in question. Lodi is (or, at least, was) a small town south of Sacramento and north of Stockton in California’s Central Valley. Bear Creek High School is apparently located in the northern outskirts of Stockton but part of the Lodi district.[5]

Sawsan Morrar, “School newspaper gets Lodi district’s OK to publish story about student who works in porn,” Sacramento Bee, May 2,2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article229945129.html


Disaster Relief

The San Francisco Chronicle story of course highlights the California angle, but more fundamentally, this is a story about Donald Trump’s vindictiveness toward Puerto Rico getting in the way of disaster relief funding not only toward Puerto Rico, but for everybody else as well.[6]

Tal Kopan, “Billions in California wildfire relief await breakthrough in Congress,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Billions-in-California-wildfire-relief-await-13807211.php


James Comey

Benjamin Wittes and I are unlikely to ever agree on much. He operates within a paradigm of law that I view as a paradigm of wealthy white male power (overwhelmingly, it is they who pass the laws). But within that paradigm, his analysis is first rate; it is therefore useful even to me.

Not in my memory has a sitting attorney general more diminished the credibility of his department on any subject. It is a kind of trope of political opposition in every administration that the attorney general—whoever he or she is—is politicizing the Justice Department and acting as a defense lawyer for the president. In this case it is true.[7]

Like Jennifer Levinson, he does not see William Barr as having committed perjury.[8] But a difference I have with Sissela Bok is that I condemn deception, that is, the withholding of relevant facts, with the same force she condemns lying, that is, the intentional utterance of falsehoods.[9] I would argue that both have the same effect of effectively denying the hearer of relevant and correct information, thus denying that hearer the ability to make a properly informed decision, thus impinging on that same hearer’s personal autonomy. This is her argument against lying; it undercuts her ethical distinction on deception.[10]

Wittes demonstrates this, blisteringly, in analyzing Barr’s deceptions. I honestly could not ask for a better example. So read Wittes first. Then Richard Wolffe. Wittes provides the legal backbone that actually makes Wolffe’s points all the more compelling.

Greg Miller, “With Mueller silent, Barr interprets the special counsel’s report — to the advantage of Trump,” Washington Post, May 1, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/with-mueller-silent-barr-interprets-the-special-counsels-report–to-the-advantage-of-trump/2019/05/01/54b5f3e0-6c3d-11e9-a66d-a82d3f3d96d5_story.html

Rachael Bade, Mike DeBonis, and John Wagner, “Barr’s no-show triggers contempt threats, Nixon comparison and more impeachment talk,” Washington Post, May 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/barr-is-a-no-show-at-house-hearing-on-mueller-report-as-democrats-warn-of-threat-to-democracy/2019/05/02/005c0ab2-6cda-11e9-a66d-a82d3f3d96d5_story.html

Benjamin Wittes, “The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr,” Atlantic, May 2, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/bill-barrs-performance-was-catastrophic/588574/

Richard Wolffe, “It’s painfully clear: today’s Congress wouldn’t have impeached Richard Nixon,” Guardian, May 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/02/congress-trump-impeach-richard-nixon


Conspiracy Theories

Anna Merlan, “Why we are addicted to conspiracy theories,” Guardian, May 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/02/why-we-are-addicted-to-conspiracy-theories


Donald Trump

Aaron Blake, “Trump’s Stephen Moore and Herman Cain debacle,” Washington Post, May 2, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/05/02/trumps-stephen-moore-herman-cain-debacle/


  1. [1]Paul Mason, “Reading Arendt Is Not Enough,” New York Review of Books, May 2, 2019, https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/05/02/reading-arendt-is-not-enough/
  2. [2]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “‘Free speech isn’t free, is it?’: A story on a teen porn worker could cost a high school journalism teacher her job,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/25/free-speech-isnt-free-is-it-sensitive-story-could-cost-high-school-journalism-teacher-her-job/
  3. [3]Sawsan Morrar, “School newspaper gets Lodi district’s OK to publish story about student who works in porn,” Sacramento Bee, May 2,2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article229945129.html
  4. [4]Isaac Stanley-Becker, “‘Free speech isn’t free, is it?’: A story on a teen porn worker could cost a high school journalism teacher her job,” Washington Post, April 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/25/free-speech-isnt-free-is-it-sensitive-story-could-cost-high-school-journalism-teacher-her-job/
  5. [5]California Department of Education, “California School Directory: Bear Creek High,” n.d., https://www.cde.ca.gov/SchoolDirectory/details?cdscode=39685853930237
  6. [6]Tal Kopan, “Billions in California wildfire relief await breakthrough in Congress,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/politics/article/Billions-in-California-wildfire-relief-await-13807211.php
  7. [7]Benjamin Wittes, “The Catastrophic Performance of Bill Barr,” Atlantic, May 2, 2019, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/bill-barrs-performance-was-catastrophic/588574/
  8. [8]Jennifer Levinson was quoted in Isaac Stanley-Becker, “‘I don’t know’: Barr’s professed ignorance prompts calls for his resignation after Mueller letter,” Washington Post, May 1, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/01/i-dont-know-barrs-professed-ignorance-prompts-democrats-seek-his-resignation-after-mueller-letter/
  9. [9]Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (New York: Vintage, 1999).
  10. [10]Sissela Bok, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life (New York: Vintage, 1999).

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