The pandemic and universities, with a dose of psychopathy

Higher Education

Though my father earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering at Washington State University, in Pullman, the most I’d heard about the school, really, was seeing the diploma he always hung on a wall in the places we (and he) lived. It turns out that Pullman is now a COVID-19 hotspot, probably because of college students returning to the area, and that coincidentally, cases have spiked among nursing home residents in the area, though no direct relationship has been established.[1]

That ought to concern the Pittsburgh area, where a number of major universities and a bunch of smaller ones sit in the middle of an area with an aging population, and many, many, many senior facilities. And where cases at the University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”) have recently spiked.[2] Indeed, according to notifications I receive daily on my phone, the Allegheny County case counts have risen dramatically, though again, I should caution that the causal relationship—especially its direction—here is unclear.

My connection to Stanford University, really, isn’t much less tenuous. But the story about the Hoover Institute[3] inspires a new blog post entitled, “Intellectual respectability for psychopaths.”

Francie Diep, “In This Rural College Town, Covid-19 Was Scarce. Then the Students Came Back,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/in-this-rural-college-town-covid-19-was-scarce-then-the-students-came-back

Tom Bartlett, “Why Some Stanford Professors Want the Hoover Institution Gone,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-some-stanford-professors-want-the-hoover-institution-gone


  1. [1]Francie Diep, “In This Rural College Town, Covid-19 Was Scarce. Then the Students Came Back,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 6, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/in-this-rural-college-town-covid-19-was-scarce-then-the-students-came-back
  2. [2]Paul Guggenheimer, “Pitt issues shelter-in-place order to students due to covid surge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pitt-issues-shelter-in-place-order-to-students-due-to-covid-surge/
  3. [3]Tom Bartlett, “Why Some Stanford Professors Want the Hoover Institution Gone,” Chronicle of Higher Education, November 9, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/why-some-stanford-professors-want-the-hoover-institution-gone

What way forward? (Update #2)

Updates

  1. Originally published, November 9, 2020, 2:15 pm.
  2. November 9, 2020, 6:34 pm:
    • Kimberly Holland explains that the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It doesn’t always follow precisely this pattern and there are other theories about stages of grief.[1] But I think we’re still in the denial stage and I guess I’m wondering what, with a delusional raging narcissist, the remaining stages will look like.
    • So you do remember those other options that Donald Trump might pursue as he desperately seeks to stave off defeat?[2]

      Republicans control both houses of the Pennsylvania legislature. Oh, and as for those right-wing militia groups I’ve been worried about?[3] I doubt we know how active, how deadly they may yet prove to be. But we are already seeing violence: “Already Trump’s unfounded accusations of fraud have inspired an attempted armed attack on the Philadelphia convention center and bomb threats against the mall next to the convention center, not to mention the plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.”[4]

    • Meanwhile,

It turns out I’m down today. The car needs a rear brake job pretty badly.


Election

Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/


Higher Education

At one point, according to the notifications I receive daily, Allegheny County daily case counts had dropped below 50. Now they’re over 200. Only some of this is due to increased testing.

Paul Guggenheimer, “Pitt issues shelter-in-place order to students due to covid surge,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pitt-issues-shelter-in-place-order-to-students-due-to-covid-surge/



Discourse

There’s a lot of merit in N. K. Jemisin’s Twitter thread,[5] which I reproduce below and I’m mostly going to just leave it there. But I have some quibbles.

First, there are actually really serious problems with voting, apart even from arithmetic reality, when meaningful options are limited to anti-environmentalist, warmongering, criminal capitalists who are, it sometimes seems more often than not, also racists and rapists.[6] The bipartisan record is simply appalling and to try to suss out one party as better than the other when one serves to give cruel policies a “bipartisan” imprimatur, enabling the other to push ever more cruel policies, and then embracing and extending those policies itself, is simply disingenuous.[7]

Second, the differences that divide this country are not just about stories. There are profound differences in values that cannot be wished away, where there is contention even over what even constitutes that “better life” we allegedly all aspire to. Off the top of my head:

  • Individualism (“freedom”)[8] versus Community (“compassion” and “empathy”)
  • Human Rights for Some (social conservatives)[9] versus Human Rights for All
  • White Supremacism (sometimes cast as “culture”[10] or a perceived need for “others” to assimilate) versus diversity and inclusion
  • National Interest as world hegemony (neoconservatism) and capitalist exploitation (neoliberalism) versus National Interest as peace and justice for all[11]
  • Security as domination over others (authoritarianism) versus security in peace and justice for all[12]
  • A demand for unlimited capitalist economic growth versus the limits of a finite planet
  • Capitalism versus Human Rights (housing, health care, adequate food, self-actualization)[13], or even more fundamentally, a notion that human beings may serve only as means to rich and powerful ends against the categorical imperative that each person must be an end in themself.

“Moderation” can offer no answer to these differences because 1) it doesn’t actually have any coherence whatsoever anyway, and 2) these differences take binary form: You are either on one side or the other. There is no meaningful “middle ground” and the imagination that there is bears all the substance of magical thinking.

Third, Jemisin is flatly wrong to diminish the importance of economics. Yes, a lot of assholes were assholes to start with. But when it comes to what increases the toxicity,

The grievances have their roots in the industrialization of this valley—and the mistrust of authority figures is a direct result of the big bargain people here [in southwest Pennsylvania] made—a deal that turned out to be a lie.

During most of the 20th Century, if you worked for our major industrial employers—companies such as US Steel, Jones & Laughlin, Westinghouse Electric or Union Switch & Signal—you knew they were poisoning our air and water, and you knew that you stood a decent chance of being injured or maimed on the job.

The bargain was that, with the protection of industrial trade unions, you were paid well, and when you retired, you had a pension waiting.

In the 1980s, we kept up our side, but US Steel diversified into oil refining and closed down much of its steel production, Westinghouse Electric merged with CBS and exited manufacturing altogether, Union Switch & Signal went overseas, and Jones & Laughlin (by then known as LTV) imploded after two bankruptcies. Pension plans were liquidated for pennies on the dollar or bailed out by the federal government.

Corporate America left Western Pennsylvania a toxic mess, both literally and figuratively, and stripped away our livelihoods and identities. Of course we’re bitter.

When that crash hit, those who could moved away. Those who couldn’t tended to be mid-career Baby Boomers with mortgaged houses that suddenly couldn’t be sold at any price. Those folks are now in their 60s, 70s and 80s, and many of them still very, very aggrieved.[14]

Sure, it’s tempting to just label the other side bigots, particularly when your side, being complicit with that other side in a so-called “Washington Consensus,”[15] has been promoting the neoconservatism and neoliberalism that shipped a lot of well-paying jobs overseas and fucked over everybody who wasn’t wealthy, white, and preferably male.[16] When judging people, as Jemisin does, you should be prepared to walk a mile in their shoes.

While I don’t buy into the authoritarian populist bigotry, I know my response to anyone who judges my own fury harshly is simple: Try going over nineteen years without being able to find a real job, even having in that time returned to school, finished a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D.[17] Until they’ve done that, their arrogance is beyond breathtaking; it sucks all the air out of the room. My experience, albeit not so much in southwestern Pennsylvania, is what leads me to acknowledge that yes, damn it, on this point, authoritarian populists have a point.[18]

Fourth, I think there’s real insight in the “snacks” versus “wholesome meals” metaphor for “sound bites” versus nuanced portrayals of situations, but it’s curious that Jemisin then treats this superficially as a “marketing/PR” problem because, to me, it points to something deeper.

But then, his treatment of class issues is similarly superficial—no, not all Trump supporters are well off whites by a very long shot. I see those Confederate flags and those Trump flags and those thin blue line flags at least as often outside working class homes. All that said . . .

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Archived at 2020-11-09 08:44:51

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N. K. Jemisin

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8 Nov, 27 tweets, 5 min read

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OK. Now that the dust is clearing on the election, there’s a thing us liberals, leftists, not-centrists, whateverthefuck we call ourselves, are going to have to work on: our storytelling. (Thread.)

It’s not that the right is better at storytelling. It’s that their stories are simpler, more viscerally satisfying. “A Black woman stole your job!” “They want your guns!” Easy, reductive us vs them, you in danger girl level stuff. Even when it’s not true, it provokes a reaction.

These stories are like snacks. They satisfy a (forbidden?) craving. They have good mouth-feel. They make you want more. Thing is, try to *live* on snacks and you’ll die of malnutrition.

The left’s story is a meal. Some crave-able comfort food, but also stuff that’s good for you.

But “eat your veggies” is always going to be a harder sell than “have another snack.” (Vegetarians sit down, I’m making a point. :P) So the problem isn’t that the left doesn’t understand the right. It’s that we learned to like (or at least eat) veggies too, and they… didn’t.

A lot of left analysis I’m seeing rt now disregards this. “We need to understand why these people love salt.” Bitch, no, everybody loves salt, some of us just moderate. “We need to sell snacks, too!” That’s an uphill climb – and it elides the fact that snacks are *bad for you.*

Leftist points *can* be distilled into simple visceral stories, sure. “Eat the rich.” “Defund police.” But they don’t hit as hard bc they’re shorthand for complex topics. Like kale chips – superficially snacky, actually good for you, offputting to ppl who prefer potato chips.

Also? Ppl who choose to live on snacks aren’t doing so for any rational reason. It’s literally killing them. They’re doing it anyway because it satisfies some other impulse: in-group approval, a sense of power over a complex and changing world. Snacks are soothing that way.

You cannot reason with folks who’ve chosen to do something against their interest, because their interest isn’t what *you* think it is. They probably know America is better off unified and equal… but ooh, it feels so good to hurt others.

Some folks just got raised wrong.

So I’m not concerned about them, personally. Folks like that might fix themselves, but *you’re* not gonna do it. What concerns me is *leftists* falling for snack-style stories. Way too many of y’all buy into the right’s “both sides” nonsense, or “white working class” rhetoric.

(As a reminder, both sides are *not* equally bad, and Trump’s base is actually wealthy white people. About half the working class is BIPoC and they are disproportionately disabled, queer, immigrant – groups the right hates. “It’s about the white working class” framing is a lie.)

And here is where the failure of storytelling kicks in. Why do leftists – people who ostensibly believe in a balanced diet – continually fall for this malnourished bullshit logic?

Same reason right-wingers do: bc on some level these leftists prefer snacks to good nutrition.

We see it again and again – reductive class analysis that ignores the impact of race and other intersections. White pundits who empathize with racists but find BIPoC equality terrifying (“cancel culture!!!1!”). Black male hip hop stars who throw their own people under the bus.

Some of this is human nature. We often draw causal connections that don’t have much to do with logic (e.g. superstition). Some of it is culture. Capitalism is a doctrine of selfishness, after all, and most of us have been indoctrinated with it from childhood.

But a lot of it is that many leftists have chosen false simplicity over the complex, often bitter flavors of truth. “Whiteness is the core of America’s problems? That can’t be true*. I’d rather believe [salty snack #1].”

*It can be. But it’s more complex than “white ppl bad.”

Somehow we have to get these folks to swallow “it’s the racism, stupid” pills without choking on them and vomiting back Trumpian talking points.

I have no solution for this, btw. I’m trying to tell good stories, but mine are kind of long and chewy. Not very snackable.

End of day, this is probably a question for marketing/PR people to answer, since their specialty is very short stories. But it’s important to target those stories at the right audience. Not everybody likes everything, after all. My books aren’t super-popular in the Western aisle.

So, know your audience. Stop trying to sell wholesome meals to ppl who’ve chosen to live on chips – hell, half the reason they’re doing that is to spite you. Focus on folks who claim to want good food but are eating a lot of crap. Remind them that salt is not a food group.

And more importantly, focus on those who already know the complex stories, but don’t trust the storytellers. The BIPoC who don’t vote completely get that it’s the racism – but they don’t think leftist politicians do. Because the best-known leftist politicians *don’t* get it.

That’s the danger of class reductionists & white liberal pundits who sound straight out of MLK’s Letter From A Birmingham Jail – more devoted to “order” than justice, constantly cautioning BIPoC to put their needs off for the greater good. Nobody likes a story with a bad ending.

The great non-voting masses of America have fallen prey not only to voter suppression, but also the stories told by GOP/billionaire think tanks: voting is meaningless, both sides are bad, doesn’t matter who’s in charge, life will always suck. This is a narrative we must counter.

And the way to do it is NOT with messages of conciliation toward fascists, or unity with bigots. Not by handwaving consequences because trials and equality are too hard. The way to do it is to SHOW people (don’t tell!) that who they vote for matters. That justice is possible.

We all want life to be better. But we have a chance right now to achieve the positive peace which is the presence of justice, to paraphrase MLK, and not just negative peace which is the absence of conflict. Elevate the powerless, not the powerful. Focus on justice, not “unity.”

Put some fucking Republicans in jail. (Prob the biggest reason I can’t commit to prison abolition; I want these mfs to die in prison.) Put ICE officers in jail if they raped or abused immigrants. Put bad cops in jail.

When we lack stories to tell, actions speak loudest.

And a big, important story we need to be telling right now is just how terrifying the vote is, to fascists. Fortunately they’ve helped tell that story themselves, by repeatedly attacking people’s ability to vote. It’s clearly important. Leftists need to double down on that.

So that’s all I got, from one storyteller to the many others out there. Hope it helps.

Belated add, since some are tossing around lefty snack stories now: again, those are a hard sell bc nuance reduces poorly & capitalism indocs the opposite. But my suggestion: “You’re better off if your neighbor is, too.” Doesn’t rhyme, not very snacky. But that’s the gist.

Welp, too many replies, so muting the thread. But since I’m seeing it already – beware people in the comments doing the exact fucking thing I said not to: insisting that voting is meaningless, “we need to focus on the WWC,” etc. Some folks just wanna be hardheaded.

N. K. Jemisin, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, November 8, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1325545838500843524.html


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Archived at 2020-11-09 09:52:39

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David Benfell, Ph.D.

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9 Nov, 4 tweets, 1 min read

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1/4 A difference on the Left between those who could hold their nose and vote for @JoeBiden and those who could not may lie in the @DemoSocialists’ substitution of the movement (think “means”) for achievement (the “end” as social and environmental justice).

2/4 If you see the movement itself as an achievement, you’re likely to settle for an incremental approach that may take decades or centuries to achieve a desired end.

3/4 If, on the other hand, you’re concerned about people dying, people being killed, through elite indifference, fecklessness, greed, or outright malice, that might not be good enough.

4/4 If you would like to see social and environmental justice now, rather than hoping that *maybe*, just *maybe*, your great grandchildren *might* win it (spoiler alert: they won’t, because we’re already seeing diminishing returns with nonviolence), that might not be good enough.


  1. [1]Kimberly Holland, “What You Should Know About the Stages of Grief,” Healthline, September 25, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-of-grief
  2. [2]Max Boot, “What if Trump loses but insists he won?” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/what-if-trump-loses-insists-he-won/; Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/; Rosa Brooks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” Washington Post, September 3, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/03/trump-stay-in-office/; Will Bunch, “Trump’s diabolical plan to blow up democracy, get reelected and avoid jail just might work,” Philadelphia Inquirer, May 5, 2019, https://www.philly.com/opinion/commentary/trump-wants-impeachment-2020-reelection-strategy-blame-democrats-ignore-subpoenas-20190505.html; Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein, “Trump team eyes legal, political Hail Marys as options for comeback fade,” Politico, November 6, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/11/06/trump-legal-political-lawsuit-election-434786; Chris Cillizza, “What happens if Donald Trump refuses to admit he lost in 2020?” CNN, May 6, 2019, https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/05/06/politics/donald-trump-2020-election/index.html; Democracy Now!, “What If Trump Refuses to Accept a Biden Victory? A Look at How Electoral Chaos Could Divide Nation,” August 3, 2020, https://www.democracynow.org/2020/8/3/nils_gilman_2020_election_scenarios; Barton Gellman, “The Election That Could Break America,” Atlantic, September 23, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/; Mehdi Hasan, “Yes, Let’s Defeat or Impeach Donald Trump. But What If He Refuses to Leave the White House?” Intercept, March 6, 2019, https://theintercept.com/2019/03/06/donald-trump-impeachment-2020/; Colby Itkowitz, “Trump won’t commit to a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ if he loses,” Washington Post, September 23, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-transfer-of-power/2020/09/23/be6954d0-fdf0-11ea-b555-4d71a9254f4b_story.html; Ed Kilgore, “How Trump Is Trying to Ensure an Early Election Night Lead,” New York, August 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/08/trump-voters-could-vote-in-person-and-give-him-early-lead.html; Eric Lach, “What Happens if Donald Trump Fights the Election Results?” New Yorker, August 21, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/campaign-chronicles/what-happens-if-donald-trump-fights-the-election-results; Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html; Peter Nicholas, “Trump Could Still Break Democracy’s Biggest Norm,” Atlantic, June 16, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/06/when-does-trump-leave-white-house/613060/; Greg Sargent, “On Hannity’s show, Trump reveals his corrupt, panicky endgame,” Washington Post, October 9, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/10/09/hannity-trump-reveals-his-corrupt-panicky-endgame/; Felicia Sonmez, “Trump declines to say whether he will accept November election results,” Washington Post, July 19, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-declines-to-say-whether-he-will-accept-november-election-results/2020/07/19/40009804-c9c7-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html; Isaac Stanley-Becker, “Claiming two years of his presidency were ‘stolen,’ Trump suggests he’s owed overtime,” Washington Post, May 6, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/05/06/claiming-two-years-his-presidency-were-stolen-trump-suggests-hes-owed-overtime/; Timothy E. Wirth and Tom Rogers, “How Trump Could Lose the Election—And Still Remain President,” Newsweek, July 3, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/how-trump-could-lose-election-still-remain-president-opinion-1513975
  3. [3]David Benfell, “Bloody November,” Not Housebroken, October 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/08/bloody-november/; David Benfell, “The very scary way to four more years,” Not Housebroken, October 16, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/25/the-very-scary-way-to-four-more-years/
  4. [4]Mark Bray, “Trump’s Baseless Fraud Accusations Are Already Sparking Far Right Violence,” Truthout, November 9, 2020, https://truthout.org/articles/trumps-baseless-fraud-accusations-are-already-sparking-far-right-violence/
  5. [5]N. K. Jemisin, [Twitter thread], Thread Reader App, November 8, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1325545838500843524.html
  6. [6]David Benfell, “Why I do not vote,” Not Housebroken, February 25, 2016, https://disunitedstates.org/2016/02/23/why-i-do-not-vote/
  7. [7]David Benfell, “Voting for complicity,” Not Housebroken, October 1, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/20/voting-for-complicity/
  8. [8]David Benfell, “On ‘freedom,’” Not Housebroken, September 13, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/09/13/on-freedom/
  9. [9]Katherine Stewart and Caroline Fredrickson, “Bill Barr Thinks America Is Going to Hell,” New York Times, December 29, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/29/opinion/william-barr-trump.html
  10. [10]Richard M. Weaver, Visions of Order (Louisiana State University, 1964; Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1995).
  11. [11]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  12. [12]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  13. [13]David P. Barash and Charles P. Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002).
  14. [14]Jason Togyer, “Fear and Loathing in the Time of Coronavirus,” Columbia Journalism Review, March 25, 2020, https://www.cjr.org/special_report/mckeesport-year-of-fear-covid-19-pandemic.php
  15. [15]Melvyn P. Leffler, “The Free Market Did Not Bring Down the Berlin Wall,” Foreign Policy, November 7, 2014, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/11/07/berlin_wall_fall_25_anniversary_reagan_bush_germany_merkel_cold_war_free_market_capitalism
  16. [16]Chip Berlet, “Taking Tea Parties Seriously: Corporate Globalization, Populism, and Resentment,” Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 10, no. 1 (2011), 11-29, doi: 10.1163/156914911X555071; Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? (New York: Metropolitan, 2005); Scott Sernau, Worlds Apart, 2nd ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge, 2006).
  17. [17]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/
  18. [18]David Benfell, “Conservative Views on Undocumented Migration” (doctoral dissertation, Saybrook, 2016). ProQuest (1765416126).

Wishful thinking for Uber and Lyft

Gig economy

It’s curious that Laura Forman ends her article, writing, “Ride-sharing’s heyday is still coming—it just might be a bit late.” Uber and Lyft had expected people to abandon buying cars, but not wanting drivers to share the novel coronavirus with them, people are buying cars again. Even if she is right about the heyday,[1] there is ample cause for doubt that Uber especially and Lyft probably can survive that long. That said, such doubts—and they are legion—have failed to stop the companies so far, in part because they have managed to get favorable coverage whenever they lose less money.[2] Hope, such as Forman expresses and such as I saw in the dot-com boom, propels the companies. Economic reality, such as I saw in the dot-com bust, probably dooms them. The question really is, how long does it take?

Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180


Academia

At Bucknell University, where in-person classes are being shut down for a week,[3]

effective immediately any student who must travel more than 30 miles off-campus for any reason – including medical appointments, family events or to vote – will not be permitted to return or take in-person classes the rest of the semester.[4]

Such students may continue their coursework online. The regular semester ends November 20, with final examinations to follow.[5]

John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html


  1. [1]Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180
  2. [2]Rich Alton, “Basic economics means Uber and Lyft can’t rely on driverless cars to become profitable,” MarketWatch, August 12, 2019, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/basic-economics-means-uber-and-lyft-cant-rely-on-driverless-cars-to-become-profitable-2019-08-12; Eliot Brown, “Uber Wants to Be the Uber of Everything—But Can It Make a Profit?” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-wants-to-be-the-uber-of-everything-11556909866; Eliot Brown, “Lyft Raises 2019 Revenue Outlook and Sees Smaller Annual Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyfts-raises-2019-revenue-outlook-and-sees-smaller-annual-loss-11565208387; Eliot Brown, “Uber Posts Its Largest Quarterly Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-posts-its-largest-ever-quarterly-loss-11565295373; Richard Durant, “Uber’s Profitability Problem Is Structural,” Seeking Alpha, August 21, 2019, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4287055-ubers-profitability-problem-structural; Ryan Felton, “Uber Is Doomed,” Jalopnik, February 24, 2017, https://jalopnik.com/uber-is-doomed-1792634203; Laura Forman, “Uber, Lyft Face a No-Sharing Economy,” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-lyft-face-a-no-sharing-economy-11603710180; Edward Helmore, “Will Uber ever make money? Day of reckoning looms for ride-sharing firm,” Guardian, August 4, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/aug/04/uber-ride-share-lyft-ipo-earnings; Sebastian Herrera and Heather Somerville, “Uber Shares Hit New Low as Post-IPO Lockup Expires,” Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shares-face-more-pressure-as-post-ipo-lockup-is-set-to-expire-11573041602″; Megan McArdle, “Uber can’t keep bleeding money, can it? It apparently thinks it can,” Washington Post, November 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/uber-cant-keep-bleeding-money-can-it-it-apparently-thinks-it-can/2019/11/05/4aa4fec0-000b-11ea-8501-2a7123a38c58_story.html; Tom McKay, “Surprising No One, Uber Continues to Hemorrhage Cash,” Gizmodo, November 4, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/surprising-no-one-uber-continues-to-hemorrhage-cash-1839625062; Christopher Mims, “In a Tight Labor Market, Gig Workers Get Harder to Please,” Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-a-tight-labor-market-gig-workers-get-harder-to-please-11556942404; Patrick Howell O’Neill, “Just In Time For Its Big IPO, Uber Loses $1 Billion,” Gizmodo, April 26, 2019, https://gizmodo.com/just-in-time-for-its-big-ipo-uber-loses-1-billion-1834331980; Annie Palmer, “Uber falls to all-time low as investors grow more skeptical,” CNBC, August 12, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/08/12/uber-stock-falls-to-all-time-low-as-investors-grow-more-skeptical.html; Dan Primack, “Uber’s IPO got caught in a perfect storm,” Axios, May 11, 2019, https://www.axios.com/ubers-ipo-perfect-storm-2a75a55a-adec-496b-bc23-02d99d02920f.html; Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389; Erik Sherman, “Yesterday, Shareholders Bailed on Uber. Today, Insiders Got Their Chance,” Fortune, November 6, 2019, https://fortune.com/2019/11/06/uber-stock-insiders-growth-profit-lockup-period/; Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, “Uber’s first day of trading ended deep in the red over gig-economy fears,” Washington Post, May 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/05/10/uber-ipo/; Heather Somerville, “Uber Shedding About 350 Jobs to Shore Up Business,” Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-shedding-about-350-jobs-to-shore-up-business-11571092680; Heather Somerville, “Uber Booked Another Quarterly Loss as Revenue Climbed,” Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-booked-another-quarterly-loss-as-revenue-climbed-11572901549; Heather Somerville and Mark Maurer, “Uber Cuts More Than 400 Technical Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, September 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-cuts-more-than-400-technical-jobs-11568144111; Georgia Wells, “Uber Cites Tight Competition After Posting $1 Billion Loss,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-first-quarter-loss-tops-1-billion-11559246846; Stephen Wilmot, “Uber’s Long Road to Profits,” Wall Street Journal, August 22, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/ubers-long-road-to-profits-11566471068; Julia Carrie Wong, “Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/apr/11/uber-ipo-risk-factors; Michael Wursthorn, “Lyft Shares Rally on Hopes Price Increases Will Drive Profit,” Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/lyft-shares-rally-on-hopes-price-increases-will-drive-profits-11566845457
  3. [3]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html
  4. [4]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html
  5. [5]John Beauge, “Bucknell cancels in-person classes for a week due to uptick in COVID-19 cases,” Harrisburg Patriot-News, October 25, 2020, https://www.pennlive.com/news/2020/10/bucknell-cancels-in-person-classes-for-a-week-due-to-uptick-in-covid-19-cases.html

The U.S. burns while the rich and powerful fiddle

Social inequality

Billionaires have been profiting exorbitantly from the ups and downs of the stock market as it reacted to news of the pandemic:[1]

Luke Hilyard, executive director of the High Pay Centre, a thinktank that focuses on excessive pay, said the “extreme wealth concentration is an ugly phenomenon from a moral perspective, but it’s also economically and socially destructive”.

“Billionaire wealth equates to a fortune almost impossible to spend over multiple lifetimes of absolute luxury,” Hilyard said. “Anyone accumulating riches on this scale could easily afford to raise the pay of the employees who generate their wealth, or contribute a great deal more in taxes to support vital public services, while remaining very well rewarded for whatever successes they’ve achieved.”[2]

Meanwhile, U.S. politicians still won’t (don’t say “can’t”) agree on an economic relief package even as people are losing their jobs,[3] losing their health insurance (but forget about Medicare For All, even in a pandemic),[4] and being evicted.[5] ’Cause, you know, none of that really matters.[6]

Rupert Neate, “Billionaires’ wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis,” Guardian, October 7, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/07/covid-19-crisis-boosts-the-fortunes-of-worlds-billionaires

Jonathan Roeder, Jordyn Holman, and Mary Schlangenstein, “‘People are suffering’: Corporate America lashes Trump after stimulus call,” Sydney Morning Herald, October 7, 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/people-are-suffering-corporate-america-lashes-trump-after-stimulus-call-20201007-p562rj.html


Academia

Colleen Shalby, “California colleges tried to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks. It didn’t work,” Los Angeles Times, October 7, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-07/as-californias-universities-reopen-off-campus-activity-contributes-to-spike-in-covid-19-cases


  1. [1]Rupert Neate, “Billionaires’ wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis,” Guardian, October 7, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/07/covid-19-crisis-boosts-the-fortunes-of-worlds-billionaires
  2. [2]Rupert Neate, “Billionaires’ wealth rises to $10.2 trillion amid Covid crisis,” Guardian, October 7, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/07/covid-19-crisis-boosts-the-fortunes-of-worlds-billionaires
  3. [3]Jonathan Roeder, Jordyn Holman, and Mary Schlangenstein, “‘People are suffering’: Corporate America lashes Trump after stimulus call,” Sydney Morning Herald, October 7, 2020, https://www.smh.com.au/business/the-economy/people-are-suffering-corporate-america-lashes-trump-after-stimulus-call-20201007-p562rj.html
  4. [4]Sara R. Collins and David Blumenthal, “Without universal healthcare, coronavirus puts us all at risk,” Los Angeles Times, March 5, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-03-05/op-ed-time-to-ramp-up-medicaid-to-pay-for-universal-coronavirus-care; Amy Goldstein, “Worries about medical bills and lost pay may hamper coronavirus efforts in the United States,” Washington Post, March 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/worries-about-medical-bills-and-lost-pay-may-hamper-coronavirus-efforts-in-the-united-states/2020/03/02/75825be0-5c9c-11ea-9055-5fa12981bbbf_story.html; Amy Goldstein, “First, the coronavirus pandemic took their jobs. Then, it wiped out their health insurance,” Washington Post, April 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/first-the-coronavirus-pandemic-took-their-jobs-then-it-wiped-out-their-health-insurance/2020/04/18/1c2cb5bc-7d7c-11ea-8013-1b6da0e4a2b7_story.html; James Hamblin, “What Will You Do If You Start Coughing?” Atlantic, March 11, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2020/03/where-do-you-go-if-you-get-coronavirus/607759/; Eric Levitz, “In the Age of the Coronavirus, Biden’s ‘Results’ Require Bernie’s ‘Revolution,’” New York, March 16, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/03/who-won-the-democratic-debate-between-biden-and-bernie-coronavirus.html
  5. [5]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction; Regina Garcia Cano and Michael Casey, “Wave of evictions expected as moratoriums end in many states,” Associated Press, August 4, 2020, copy in possession of author; Stephen Caruso, “Gov. Wolf says his executive authority has run out on extending eviction moratorium, perplexing some experts,” Pittsburgh City Paper, August 28, 2020, https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/gov-wolf-says-his-executive-authority-has-run-out-on-extending-eviction-moratorium-perplexing-some-experts/Content?oid=17896117; Benjamin Fearnow, “Biden, Sanders demand 3-month freeze on rent payments, eviction of tenants across U.S.,” Newsweek, March 28, 2020, https://www.newsweek.com/biden-sanders-demand-3-month-freeze-rent-payments-eviction-tenants-across-us-1494839; John Fritze and Nicholas Wu, “Trump administration announces nationwide eviction moratorium through end of the year,” USA Today, September 1, 2020, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/09/01/trump-imposes-eviction-moratorium-because-covid-19-pandemic/5686402002/; Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/; Elizabeth Hardison, “Pa.’s moratorium on evictions has ended. Here’s what that means,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, September 1, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/working-the-economy/pa-s-moratorium-on-evictions-has-ended-heres-what-that-means/; Sam Levin, “California landlords are locking out struggling tenants. A ‘tsunami of evictions’ may be next,” Guardian, July 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jul/30/california-covid-19-evictions-landlords-tenants; Eric Levitz, “This Recession Is a Bigger Housing Crisis Than 2008,” New York, July 13, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/coronavirus-recession-evictions-crisis-congress.html; Renae Merle, “Evictions are likely to skyrocket this summer as jobs remain scarce. Black renters will be hard hit,” Washington Post, July 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/06/eviction-moratoriums-starwood/; John L. Micek, “Pa. is facing a wave of evictions. Two state House lawmakers have a plan to help,” Pennsylvania Capital-Star, June 16, 2020, https://www.penncapital-star.com/commentary/pa-is-facing-a-wave-of-evictions-two-state-house-lawmakers-have-a-plan-to-help-tuesday-morning-coffee/; Emma Ockerman, “The Tenant Uprising Is Here, and It’s Fierce,” Vice, August 7, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7kpdyq/the-tenant-uprising-is-here-and-its-fierce; Ashwin Rodrigues, “Gig Economy Company Launches Uber, But for Evicting People,” Vice, September 21, 2020, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/ep435n/gig-economy-company-launches-uber-but-for-evicting-people; Jenny Schuetz, “America’s inequitable housing system is completely unprepared for coronavirus,” Brookings, March 12, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/03/12/americas-inequitable-housing-system-is-completely-unprepared-for-coronavirus/; Renatta Signorini, “As time ticks down on eviction ban in Pennsylvania, crush of court cases expected,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 8, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/westmoreland/as-time-ticks-down-on-eviction-ban-in-pennsylvania-crush-of-court-cases-expected/
  6. [6]David Benfell, “The mysterious expectation that elites give a damn,” Not Housebroken, September 26, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/08/01/the-mysterious-expectation-that-elites-give-a-damn/

Catching up

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 19, 2020, at 11:17 am.
  2. September 19, 3:27 pm:
    • I fixed those page links, I think. It seems the WordPress export/import function failed to replicate the setting for permalinks on Not Housebroken. All I probably really had to do was turn that back on. But I updated the pages, so hopefully those are right now.

So I’m catching up. The transition to new hosting was not without its scary moments but it seems my host has been to Hogwarts. His database magic is good. It does appear some page links have been broken, so I have a bit more work to do, which I’ll get to, hopefully tonight.


Pennsylvania

Jamie Martines and Paula Reed Ward, “Why the ruling against Wolf’s covid-19 restrictions faces long odds on appeal, explained,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 17, 2020, https://triblive.com/news/pennsylvania/why-the-ruling-against-wolfs-covid-19-restrictions-faces-long-odds-on-appeal-explained/

Meghan Schiller, “Pitt Researcher: Wolf Administration’s Pandemic Restrictions Saved ‘Many, Many Thousands Of Lives,’” KDKA, September 17, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/09/17/pittsburgh-researcher-gov-tom-wolf-pandemic-restrictions-saved-lives/


Allegheny County

Paula Reed Ward, “Brentwood restaurant defies order to close for covid-19 violations, faces court action,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 18, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/brentwood-restaurant-defies-order-to-close-for-covid-19-violations-faces-court-action/


Migrants

Tina Vasquez, “Immigrants allege mistreatment by Georgia doctor and whistleblower,” Prism, September 17, 2020, https://www.prismreports.org/article/2020/9/17/immigrants-allege-mistreatment-by-georgia-doctor-and-whistleblower/


Higher Education

Francie Diep, “More Colleges Are Responding to Covid-19 Surges With 2-Week Quarantines. Do They Work?” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/more-colleges-are-responding-to-covid-19-surges-with-2-week-quarantines-do-they-work


Supreme Court

Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and legal pioneer for gender equality, dies at 87,” Washington Post, September 18, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/ruth-bader-ginsburg-dies/2020/09/18/3cedc314-fa08-11ea-a275-1a2c2d36e1f1_story.html

Clare Foran, Manu Raju, and Ted Barrett, “McConnell vows Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will get Senate vote, setting up historic fight,” CNN, September 19, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/politics/congress-fight-rgb-seat/index.html


Back to school in Pittsburgh

Updates

  1. Originally published, September 14, 2020, at 11:27 am.
  2. September 14, 3:36 pm:
    • A federal judge has ruled that Governor Wolf’s shutdown orders in Pennsylvania were unconstitutional, violating a first amendment right of freedom of assembly.[1] The ruling uses capitalist libertarian logic.
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It appears to me to be continuing to gather strength. If I’m not mistaken, an eye is now discernible.
  3. September 15, 9:15 am:
    • I updated the satellite photo for Sally. It does seem like it’s headed straight for the Mississippi River delta, which includes New Orleans. I’m failing to discern an eye now, but it seems to be taking on more of a classic spiral shape.

Sally


Fig. 1. 72-hour gif of satellite imagery for the eastern U.S. and Gulf of Mexico, September 15, 2020, at 8:01 am EDT.


Higher education

So a bunch of schools ignored the advice that they needed to remain on-line only.[2] It’s pretty rapidly gone wrong, at least at some of the schools that returned to in-person instruction in August, pretty much as had been predicted.[3]

[T]he University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and East Carolina University all moved to remote instruction after just a week of classes. Michigan State University canceled most in-person instruction less than two weeks before the semester began. Many institutions may make similar decisions as the realities of [COVID-19] viral infection collide with their in-person ambitions.[4]

And, of course, that’s gonna cost the universities money but maybe not as much as you might think: In many cases, these reversals occurred too late for students to get their money back. The predictable cynicism ensues but it’s possible hubris and a desperation to maintain enrollment have as much to do with the decisions to resume in-person instruction as greed.[5]

A personal note, here: Even before I had finished my bachelor’s degree (this was late 2005), I was starting to see a lot of hubris on the campus (California State University, East Bay) I attended. Certainly, I see a lot of hubris emanating from Saybrook University now, which having destroyed its human science program, has lost its curricular grounding and—this is painful—seems to be going entirely woo woo.

Hubris is real. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m seeing a lot of masked students now on the streets of Oakland, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh where (very roughly west to east) Carlow University, University of Pittsburgh (“Pitt”), and Carnegie-Mellon University have their main campuses, side-by-side, and also where University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has three major hospitals. I’m also seeing that at least some K-12 schools are back in session. So far, from the notifications I’ve been getting on my phone, the bump in COVID-19 case counts in Allegheny County has been small. I’m hoping this works out but it’s still awfully early.


The car

So it’s another $1000+ going into my car in an already expensive year. Tires and front rotors, this time. The front end work earlier this year that, with an inspection and engine fan repair, came to around $1900, was due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I only got about 21,000 miles out of this last set of tires, also largely due to Pittsburgh road conditions. I’m cutting the wheel alignment check interval to 90 days (I put on about 63,000 miles per year), but basically, I’m losing my ass here and because so much of it is due to Pittsburgh road conditions, I really can’t blame the car. I can only blame the ridesharing driving. The trouble is that, even with a Ph.D., I have no choice.[6]


Pennsylvania

Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/


  1. [1]Paula Reed Ward, “Federal judge rules Gov. Wolf’s shutdown orders were unconstitutional,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 14, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/federal-judge-rules-gov-wolfs-shutdown-orders-were-unconstitutional/
  2. [2]Robert Kelchen, “Colleges Aren’t Reopening in the Fall,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 18, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/Colleges-Aren-t-Reopening-in/248803; Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening
  3. [3]Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/; Lindsay Ellis, “Colleges Hoped for an In-Person Fall. Now the Dream is Crumbling,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 20, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-hoped-for-an-in-person-fall-now-the-dream-is-crumbling; Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/; Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester
  4. [4]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  5. [5]Eric Kelderman, “Colleges Are Making Late Calls to Shut Campuses. Is It All About the Money?” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 25, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/colleges-are-making-late-calls-to-shut-campuses-is-it-all-about-the-money
  6. [6]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d., https://disunitedstates.org/about-my-job-hunt/

Alleged shooter in Portland appears to have committed ‘suicide by cop’

Higher Education

Kery Murakami, “Fauci Urges Colleges Not to Send Students Home,” Inside Higher Ed, September 4, 2020, https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2020/09/04/fauci-urges-colleges-not-send-students-home


Protests

It appears the shooter in Portland[1] was a Leftist. In a National Public Radio article, he is being cast as possibly having mental health issues. The victim in that shooting has been identified as Aaron Danielson; the suspect, Michael Reinoehl, died in a volley of, according to people nearby, forty to fifty shots, as “four officers from three different jurisdictions fired weapons” when Reinoehl allegedly produced a weapon,[2] raising the specter of suicide by cop, assuming even that he did indeed brandish that weapon.[3]

That cops are poorly prepared to deal with mental health issues is an argument for abolishing or defunding the police.[4]

Conrad Wilson and Kimberley Freda, “Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of Portland Right-Wing Protester Killed By Law Enforcement,” National Public Radio, September 4, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/09/04/909515885/protester-suspected-in-portland-shooting-death-killed-by-law-enforcement


  1. [1]Faiz Siddiqui and Isaac Stanley-Becker, “One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters,” Washington Post, August 30, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/29/blm-activists-counterprotesters-clash-portland-leading-arrests/; Hollie Silverman and Alta Spells, “1 person is dead after a shooting during protests in downtown Portland,” CNN, August 30, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/30/us/portland-protest-fatal-shooting/index.html
  2. [2]Conrad Wilson and Kimberley Freda, “Suspect In Fatal Shooting Of Portland Right-Wing Protester Killed By Law Enforcement,” National Public Radio, September 4, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/09/04/909515885/protester-suspected-in-portland-shooting-death-killed-by-law-enforcement
  3. [3]Mark Joseph Stern, “The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them?” Slate, August 4, 2020, https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/08/police-testilying.html
  4. [4]Amanda Arnold, “What Exactly Does It Mean to Defund the Police?” Cut, June 12, 2020, https://www.thecut.com/2020/06/what-does-defund-the-police-mean-the-phrase-explained.html; Zak Cheney-Rice, “Why Police Abolition Is a Useful Framework — Even for Skeptics,” New York, June 15, 2020, https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/police-abolitionist-lessons-for-america.html

Election bullshit, intensified

Academia

Notre Dame University, “Notre Dame enacts two weeks of remote instruction,” August 18, 2020, https://news.nd.edu/news/notre-dame-enacts-two-weeks-of-remote-instruction/


Horse race

I’m no historian, but I think you’d have to go a ways back to find an election in the U.S. that is so much bullshit.

And you can’t even argue that Joe Biden is a “functioning adult,” as so many yard signs claim to seek, because he plainly suffers dementia.


The militia movement in the pandemic

Militia movement

Luke Mogelson’s article, principally about the militia movement in a time of the novel coronavirus and anti-racism protests,[1] is absolutely horrifying. I know from my own studies that Mogelson’s analysis and observations are likely correct. That does not diminish the horror.

Oh yeah, and when these assholes deny they are racist, especially when they do so vociferously?[2] As if I didn’t already know, that persuades me that they are racist.

Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/24/the-militias-against-masks


Academia

Andy Thomason, “After Only One Week, Chapel Hill Abandons In-Person Fall Semester,” Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/after-only-one-week-chapel-hill-abandons-in-person-fall-semester


  1. [1]Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/24/the-militias-against-masks
  2. [2]Luke Mogelson, “The Militias Against Masks,” New Yorker, August 17, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2020/08/24/the-militias-against-masks

The summer of our discontent

One hot woman

My mother is putting up with a lot out in California, with rotating power outages, 100-plus degree heat, and the upcoming peak of a fire season that looks like it’s going to be really, really bad. It’s also her birthday.

I’m not gonna tell you how old she is. Suffice it to say, she’s outlived a bunch of assholes.

Ironically, with the pandemic, it’s also a time when I’m glad we’re on opposite sides of the country. Driving for Uber and Lyft, I’m exposed to a lot of people in a confined space and it would absolutely not be a good thing for me to give her COVID-19.

Happy birthday, Mom! Such as it is.


Horse race

Robert McCartney, “Here’s one way Trump could try to steal the election, voting experts say,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/heres-one-way-trump-could-try-to-steal-the-election-voting-experts-say/2020/08/16/b5bf0c2a-de66-11ea-b205-ff838e15a9a6_story.html


Pittsburgh

There is a new blog post entitled, “Off with their heads.”

Shelby Cassesse, “Protesters Call For Mayor Peduto’s Resignation After Arrest Of Protester In Oakland,” KDKA, August 16, 2020, https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/08/16/protesters-call-for-removal-of-mayor-peduto/

Mary Ann Thomas, “Angry crowd shows up at Mayor Peduto’s home challenging Pittsburgh police arrest of protester,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, August 16, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/pittsburgh-allegheny/protesters-show-up-at-pedutos-home-protesting-city-police-arrest-of-protester-saturday/


Academia

Gee, who[1] could have told us this[2] would happen?

Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/


  1. [1]Vivian S. Lee, Vindell Washington, and Robert M. Califf, “The Bad Science of Reopening,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 28, 2020, https://www.chronicle.com/article/the-bad-science-of-reopening
  2. [2]Tim Elfrink, “‘We’ve got to do better than this’: College students raise alarm by packing bars, avoiding masks,” Washington Post, August 17, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/17/alabama-georgia-college-parties-covid/