It’s all going to hell, pretty much as anticipated

Please see my earlier posting for information on a communication disruption expected tomorrow.


As near as I can tell, there is little real news about coronavirus today, except that 1) it’s all going to hell,[1] pretty much as anticipated;[2] 2) the capitalists are having a meltdown; and 3) Donald Trump banned some travel from Europe for thirty days.[3] It’s all brain dead, especially the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief.[4] Pull the plug.

Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020,

Thomas Heath, Taylor Telford, and Heather Long, “Dow plunges 10 percent despite Fed lifeline as coronavirus panic grips investors,” Washington Post, March 12, 2020,

  1. [1]Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “Lots of people will die who didn’t need to,” Irregular Bullshit, March 10, 2020,
  3. [3]Thomas Heath, Taylor Telford, and Heather Long, “Dow plunges 10 percent despite Fed lifeline as coronavirus panic grips investors,” Washington Post, March 12, 2020,
  4. [4]Susan B. Glasser, “A President Unequal to the Moment,” New Yorker, March 12, 2020,; Dana Milbank, “For Trump, a reckoning has come,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020,; Ashley Parker, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lena H. Sun, “Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis,” Washington Post, March 7, 2020,; Paul Waldman, “How coronavirus has deeply flummoxed conservative media,” Washington Post, February 28, 2020,

Imagine wanting Joe Biden to be your nominee


  1. Originally published, March 12, 9:40 am.
  2. March 13, 7:23 pm:
    • The Pixel 4 XL has not arrived and therefore, the expected communication disruption has not begun. Please watch The Irregular Bullshit for updates.

Joe Biden

As of now, FiveThirtyEight scores the endorsement race at 682 for Joe Biden to 73 for Bernie Sanders.[1]

Glen Kessler defends Biden’s record on Social Security, sort of, against Sanders’ attacks by calling attention to context: Austerity had wide support, at least within the Washington, D.C., elite—in Kessler’s phrasing, it was uncontroversial. Biden allegedly was seeking to stave off even worse cuts. And it wasn’t just Social Security.[2] It’s damnation by faint praise.

Neoliberalism remains intellectually utterly discredited.[3] To advocate it is not an intellectually honest position, but rather one that appeals to the “donor class,” that is, the filthy rich.


There will be significant disruptions to my phone communications beginning sometime tomorrow.

The iPhone just wasn’t cutting it. The myriad annoyances with workflow were one thing. It was another when I discovered I was missing Uber orders because of something that wasn’t working correctly (the old sound system in my car may bear some blame here).

But what was really getting me is that Lyft is pretty aggressive about reshuffling orders among drivers, presumably to optimize overall utilization. Often, I’m in Pittsburgh traffic[4] at a crucial moment, making a turn, whatever, when Lyft does this. With the iPhone, I was having to push three buttons to get navigation back on track. It’s press, wait for response, press, wait for response, press.

So I dredged out that Pixel 3 XL I’d received on a warranty exchange, the phone that can’t handle dual SIM, dual standby (DSDS, a requirement to ensure maximum mobile data availability), put it on a cheap Google Fi plan (their plans really are cheap but they run off third-tier mobile providers), and tried running it off a personal hotspot on the iPhone.

The difference was amazing. All those annoyances were gone. Presto. Poof. Gone. And it’s only one button to get navigation back on track when Lyft does its thing. In general, the integration works far better with Uber and Lyft.

But running a personal hotspot like that is unsustainable. Sometimes things really go wrong. And I’m having to carry two phones. And sometimes that third-tier provider stuff or that routing voice calls over WiFi on the personal hotspot stuff doesn’t work so well when I have to call passengers.

The Pixel 4 XL is due to arrive tomorrow. I’m going to be going through hell getting it set up. And communication might not work as intended at that point.

Use the Google Voice numbers as appropriate for any urgent contact. The Pixel 3 XL will be unperturbed until I shut down the Google Fi plan and it has Google Voice.

  1. [1]FiveThirtyEight, “The 2020 Endorsement Primary,” March 12, 2020,
  2. [2]Glenn Kessler, “Sanders versus Biden on Social Security: a guide to the claims,” MSNBC, March 9, 2020,
  3. [3]Mark Blyth, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea (Oxford, UK: Oxford University, 2013); Amir Fleischmann, “The Myth of the Fiscal Conservative,” Jacobin, March 5, 2017,; Jason Hickel, “Progress and its discontents,” New Internationalist, August 7, 2019,; 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,; 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,; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “How Austerity Kills,” New York Times, May 12, 2013,; David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, “Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills,” Salon, May 19, 2013,
  4. [4]David Benfell, “Pittsburgh driving for the uninitiated,” Irregular Bullshit, n.d.,

Our society’s answer to race and class inequality

Gratuitous guns

There are two new additions to my collection of Gratuitous Guns (figures 1, 2, and 3).

Fig. 1. Gratuitous Guns map.

The first is in Verona (figure 2). It appears in the map (figure 1) as near Oakmont and across the Allegheny River from Fox Chapel. Both of the latter towns are quite wealthy areas. Verona seems to be much more mixed and is definitely not as wealthy. The intersection of race and class holds.
Fig. 2. Gratuitous gun in Verona, photography by author, March 7, 2020.

The second is in McKeesport, just barely in McKeesport, adjacent to the Greater Allegheny campus of Penn State University. White Oak, a much whiter and far less devastated community, is very nearby. This is yet another fucking tank (figure 3):
Fig. 3. Gratuitous tank in Renziehausen Park, McKeesport, photograph by author March 11, 2020.
In contrast to universities like University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), Duquesne, and Carnegie-Mellon, many students at this Penn State campus are Black. And McKeesport seems predominantly Black. There are entire blocks, often in succession, where almost all of the houses have been abandoned.

These two examples, especially, inform me as to how the answer in our society, especially in the Pittsburgh area, to racial and class inequality is not mitigation but intimidation.[1] But oh yeah, we should elect more of the fucking same.

The photograph collection is publicly available.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The banners and the guns: Flagrant racism in Pittsburgh,” Not Housebroken, October 12, 2019,