Abort, abort!

I do not believe I will be able to find a place in western Massachusetts. The blog entry is entitled, “If you don’t like homelessness, here’s an idea: Make it possible to rent an apartment.” I had briefly published a Longmeadow address in my contact information page; that address has now been removed—I got my money back.

The motel is more difficult: The manager does not return until Sunday and I probably won’t leave until Monday or Tuesday anyway. I need to catch up, including on email, which I’ve been doing very poorly so far.

Plan B is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Plan C is Portland, Oregon. Plan D is back to my mother’s. But I really like the trees back east. I’m hoping Pittsburgh will work.

I still have a lot of catching up to do.



Guantanamo

Missy Ryan, “In a setback for Guantanamo, court throws out years of rulings in USS Cole case,” Washington Post, April 16, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-a-setback-for-guantanamo-court-throws-out-years-of-rulings-in-uss-cole-case/2019/04/16/6c63e052-606b-11e9-bfad-36a7eb36cb60_story.html


Assessment

One of the questions I kept asking throughout my doctoral program was why we, who were being educated in the deficiencies of a quantitative approach, were evaluating our classes at the end of each semester using—of course—a quantitative approach: to be precise, Likert scales. Every syllabus included a very similar, if not identical, rubric which was supposed to tell us how our work would be evaluated—quantitatively. (I doubt that any of my professors actually used that rubric.)

So guess what happened at “the annual gathering of the WASC Senior College and University Commission, which accredits institutions in California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands?” People piled on about quantitative assessments of “learning outcomes” (more absolute fucking bullshit).[1] The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) is, one way or another, the accreditor for all of my post-secondary education, including at California Institute of Integral Studies (where I studied in what was the wrong program for me) and Saybrook (where I earned my Ph.D.).

Doug Lederman, “Harsh Take on Assessment … From Assessment Pros,” Inside Higher Ed, April 17, 2019, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/17/advocates-student-learning-assessment-say-its-time-different-approach


  1. [1]Doug Lederman, “Harsh Take on Assessment … From Assessment Pros,” Inside Higher Ed, April 17, 2019, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/04/17/advocates-student-learning-assessment-say-its-time-different-approach

‘Welcome to Massachusetts,’ the sign says

I guess we’ll see how long that lasts. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing tomorrow: Nothing is simple, everything is interdependent, and until it’s all in place, I can’t make money.

I know. I’m long overdue for a vacation. I think the last time I took one must have been in October 2000, while I was working for Linuxcare. Before that, jeez, what a load of chickenshit jobs, I think I probably had to take one with Quinn Company. I left that job is 1985, so 1984 is the last possible year I could have had an actual paid vacation before that one at Linuxcare.

So now I’m here, albeit with a verging on stale Ph.D., hoping for something different.

The motel room seems nice enough. It’s a bit small, but it will work. And yeah, it was cheap (thanks Mom for finding it!).

One final observation from the trip. I’m still sorting out what to do about gasoline. Combining Shell premium with a container of the Techron might even work better than just using Chevron. Then I tried Sunoco, which has an extra high octane-rating gasoline, again in combination with a container of the Techron. I think this was even better.

We’ll see. Calm your typewriter fingers my fickle positivist fans (really? are there any?) I know perfectly well that there are at least two variables I’m failing to account for here: Probably the more important of the two is that I only started using the Techron intensively when I ran out of Chevron stations (that was in Wyoming, with a station that one of my phones could find, and the other couldn’t). It could be that, since I’m still using top tier fuels, I’m getting some synergistic effect with the detergents in those fuels.

That’s only probably the more important of the two variables. The other one is that I’m clearly doing a different sort of driving, driving that’s much easier on the engine. I’ve just gotten my oil changed and driven something like 3000 miles across country. Normally by now, with the driving I was doing, my oil would be starting to look moderately dirty. That amount over the full mark on my dipstick would probably be gone and then some. Neither of those are currently true. The oil, when I checked it this morning, was still over the full line and just beginning to show some color. I expect a return to normal behavior when I resume driving for Uber and/or Lyft, but it’s conceivable (IANAM – I Am Not A Mechanic) that this drive has had a beneficial effect on the engine and, further, that I have not yet seen the beginning of a tapering off in improvement.

We shall see, but getting back to the story, the first thing I wanted to do getting out of my hotel room this morning was find gas. I checked: Chevron wasn’t available around Oregon, Ohio, either. I found a Shell station that I guess was far enough away down the road that when I’d fueled up and pointed to my motel, Google routed me a very scenic route around the south shore of Lake Erie. Highway 2 goes through some absolutely gorgeous country, that yes, looks very much like what it probably looked like when I was a kid, and presumably longer.

I hardly even caught a glimpse of Lake Erie and maybe it was just that after Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and much of Nebraska with hardly any trees, I was needing trees. If so, this was the antidote, the cure, whatever. Early spring has progressed a little further here: More than one species of tree is starting to bud, and they bud in distinctly different hues. I found it absolutely spectacular and, sadly, didn’t have an opportunity to photograph—it just seemed too narrow and too disruptive to pull over for the photograph.

But I stopped at a rest stop in Pennsylvania, in that little nib on the northwest county and took this picture:IMG_20190418_113418.jpgYou just don’t get forests like this out west, at least that I know of. And honestly, I think the winter to early-spring hues of these trees is under-appreciated.

But once again, to return to the story, I was thinking about people who have lived here for generations—this is much, much, much more common here than in the west—who are now to be convinced that what they are doing is harmful to the environment: Sure, some of it is cultivated, but to many, that’s the natural state of things. If what they are doing—and have been doing for generations—is harmful, I’m guessing a few ask, how come they don’t see it in their local environment?

And then there’s the fairly obvious follow-up question (I think one of my relatives might have put it to me when I was a kid) observing that it seems like it’s big city folks who are all upset about the environment, so if that’s the case, couldn’t it possibly be that they have fouled their own nests?

I can imagine those folks in Wyoming asking that last question too. And yes, they might be shortsighted in their premises and their implicit assumptions. Maybe they should be more appreciative of a fragile balance that makes everything they, sadly including livestock, do. But what I’m talking about, albeit superficially looking through the windows of my car, is the lived reality of people who are much more often Donald Trump supporters than not. We have to answer on those terms and I’m still thinking about how to do that.

Oh man, did I mention my mom’s vegan broccoli macaroni and cheese is amazing? I’m having more tonight, now that I’ve partly moved into my motel room. It’s just so much easier when I have access to a microwave and everything is close at hand. What would really have been good here is a way to heat it in the car—except I really didn’t have the room.

It’s going to take a while before I catch up.


Blasphemy

Just sayin’. . . .

Jon Christian, “Pepsi Plans to Project a Giant Ad in the Night Sky Using Cubesats,” Futurism, April 13, 2019, https://futurism.com/pepsi-orbital-billboard-night-sky


Back east

I know, I get it. Easterners will never agree with this. But there was a perceptible change probably some time about the time I entered the Central Time Zone yesterday, on my way to Lincoln, Nebraska (I only stopped in North Platte). I started seeing trees.

This morning, I had to run some errands: Get ice, get more Amy’s Tofu Scrambles, get Techron (I left the territory served by Chevron someplace in Wyoming), get gas, and if possible, get a car wash. The latter because I really like being able to see through my windshield and I like my headlights to illuminate something other than the insect carcasses glued to the lens.

So I wound up doing a little driving around Lincoln accomplishing that shit, which made me, again, late checking in tonight. But as I was driving around Lincoln, I was thinking of Dormont, Pennsylvania, where my mother grew up. Then, I corrected myself: No, this is a bit more like Mount Lebanon, the neighboring town where we lived for a couple years between stints in San Francisco.

And then I was thinking, wait a minute. It can’t just be that every place east of the Missouri River and a few west of it is going to remind me of Pittsburgh suburbs, is it?

The short answer is, yes. Mainly because of the trees. Out west, we have some deciduous trees and lots of evergreens–cypress, redwood, and many more. Here, it’s kind of the opposite. Lots more deciduous, only some of which, at this time of year, is barely beginning to sprout leaves, all leaving exposed the trees themselves in a shot (above) I might associate more with autumn than (here) early spring.

So I was late leaving Lincoln and, having failed to find Amy’s Tofu Scrambles at the Lincoln Whole Foods, I had to stop at the one in West Des Moines. This worked out: I was also able to get some lunch there, which is good because it’s after midnight now here at the hotel in Oregon, Ohio, too late to be having the microwave beep at full volume incessantly. I’d have been here sooner had I not eaten lunch; but not enough sooner.

But that also limits how far I’m going to get catching up on news. It certainly won’t all be tonight and I’m calling it a night.


 

The midwest

I woke up needing to pee. I’d been worried about the weather so I peeked out through the window. It was pouring down rain.

Not at all the weather I wanted to head into the Wasatch Mountains, let alone the Rockies. And indeed it was snowing as I crossed the Wasatch Mountains, but it wasn’t sticking.

I’m still not sure where the division between the Wasatch range and the Rockies was. I thought I was passing the continental divide when I saw an exit for “Divide Rd.” followed by a steep downgrade. Wyoming, however, has the continental divide marked at two locations farther east, both at around 7000 feet. By that time, however, I was on high plains and out of danger. The rain washed my car—in vain: By the time I’d gotten to North Platte, my car was plastered with insect remains.

There’s just not much to say about Wyoming and Nebraska. I was wondering how people living their entire lives in such a barren, desolate, wide open space could be persuaded of the importance of environmental protection. They see no sign of global overpopulation. There is hardly any water to pollute. The wind blows any air pollution far away. There is, on the other hand, land, lots of it, each acre seemingly interchangeable with the next for thousands if not millions of acres. They are far away from the dead zones where agricultural runoff makes sea water uninhabitable and from areas which will be inundated by rising sea levels. And they would have no point of reference for urban issues, let alone those of highly and densely populated metropolitan areas.

Instead, folks here see billboards from PassItOn.com, an entity that seems to think the big problem with the U.S. is that we fail to feel confidence, optimism, civility, and courtesy. Other signs, billboards, and crosses proclaim that we need to read the Bible (King James Version, thank you) and turn to Jesus.

Sorry, no news today. The drive today was just way, way too long.


I have traversed Nevada and am in Salt Lake City

The picture above tells a lot of my story today, driving from Reno to Salt Lake City. There is actually green grass among some of the unusually bright green sagebrush I saw as I left Reno. As I continued east, sagebrush as I remember it became visible, but not always consistently. At one point, I was looking at a scene with sagebrush as I remember it, the really green aforementioned sagebrush, and sagebrush that was all dried up and about ready to roll (tumbleweed).

I took this picture about half-way between Valmy and Battle Mountain. Many Nevada towns have their initial inscribed on a prominent hillside. Reno has “R,” Sparks has “S,” and Battle Mountain has—get your juvenile giggle on—”BM.” Yes, they really put that on the side of something that doesn’t quite look like a hillside overlooking their town.

This is roadway I haven’t traveled since, as a kid, my father took me to visit my Uncle Len and grandparents after my parents divorced. I remember the side of a mountain bearing the fully spelled out text, “Battle Mountain.” I didn’t see that this time. Instead, I saw “Bowel Movement,” or rather its initials used as a euphemism.

I’ve been thinking about Wells, Nevada, since I set out. Wells is basically a no-account town most of the way to Wendover on the Nevada-Utah border. But I remember one year as a kid, when we moved from San Francisco to Pittsburgh in a Jeep Wagoneer towing a U-Haul trailer (with a moving van coming separately).

The day before we left, it rained hard enough in San Francisco that the water was piling up on 23rd Avenue where we lived. The storm drains couldn’t drain the water fast enough. That storm caught up with us a little west of Wells. There was a multiple-car pileup, due to ice, that we slid right into. We wound up going into Wells to give our statement, then continued on to Salt Lake City, staying with my grandparents while we got the front end fixed.

I also remember Wells from a return trip from Pittsburgh—when I was a kid, we took a few trips across country between Pittsburgh and San Francisco, so I’m not sure if this is when we were moving back to San Francisco a couple years later. The car had mechanical trouble. We wound up getting towed to, you guessed it, Wells and staying overnight while it got fixed.

I stopped in Wells for gas today. As with the rest of the drive, it was uneventful. But having driven clear across Nevada, seeing very few trees (mostly along rivers and streams), it was a bit of a surprise to see small trees east of Wells. They were clearly distinguishable from shrubs in that they had central trunks and branches. But not much larger.

Wendover is a bigger place than I remember. As with Winnemucca and the other towns I passed, I-80 no longer goes down city streets; bypasses have been built on the north sides of these towns (I didn’t recognize any as having been built on the south). But it even has tall buildings now. I could have stopped there for gas instead of Wells, but I’m fussy: Chevron really seems better in my car, and this isn’t the first car I’ve noticed that in. I remembered Wendover as a final stop for slot machines before hitting Utah and I certainly didn’t remember whether it had a Chevron station. For the record, it does now.

I encountered some sprinkles as I traversed Nevada, but the rain didn’t really start until I’d crossed into Utah. From the vantage point just east of Wendover, the Great Salt Lake looked like a mirror. I never had a really good angle for a photograph, partly because I was heading east.

So I’m in my hotel. I’m tired so I’ve grabbed some of my mother’s vegan broccoli macaroni and cheese that she sent me off with. It rocks. It absolutely rocks. It’s infinitely better than what they have at Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park. My mom sent me off with two pretty good sized containers. I’m most of the way through the first one and had a slice of her always excellent vegan pumpkin pie.

Rain is also in the forecast for tomorrow, but it looks like temperatures will be high enough at least to cross the Wasatch Mountains east of Salt Lake. I will be trying to make it to Lincoln, Nebraska. That means also crossing the Rockies. Wish me luck.

I’m still heartbroken about leaving California. I just wish I could find a real job there.


Brexit

Another metaphor would be rats deserting a sinking ship. Brexit has gone completely wrong, I don’t think anyone actually sees a way through the mess, and I think anyone who thinks they see a way is delusional.

The thing of it is that no one, not a single one, has put forward a convincing case that they could have done better than Theresa May at coming up with a deal. They blame her anyway and carry on with their delusions that they could indeed have done better.

And now that it looks like the Tories will lose a general election,[1] they are indeed abandoning the ship. They should be pilloried for their hypocrisy and their self-righteousness.
3035
Cartoon by Ben Jennings, via the Guardian, fair use.


Notre Dame

The picture that accompanies the story makes the fire appear catastrophic, but firefighters say they’ve saved the structure. And as usual, Donald Trump made an ass of himself, suggesting “flying water tankers.” Such water drops would collapse the structure.[2] The Atlantic has more photographs.

Lori Hinnant and Samuel Petrequin, “Notre Dame Cathedral is ravaged in blaze; Macron pledges to rebuild,” Boston Globe, April 15, 2019, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2019/04/15/paris-notre-dame-cathedral-flames/xxj3cTUPh1XtTMfTte2VNL/story.html


  1. [1]Edward Malnick and Christopher Hope, “Tories face 60 seat loss amid Brexit backlash as ‘Corbyn bound for No 10,’” Telegraph, April 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/13/tories-face-election-wipe-party-course-lose-60-seats-hand-corbyn/
  2. [2]Lori Hinnant and Samuel Petrequin, “Notre Dame Cathedral is ravaged in blaze; Macron pledges to rebuild,” Boston Globe, April 15, 2019, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2019/04/15/paris-notre-dame-cathedral-flames/xxj3cTUPh1XtTMfTte2VNL/story.html

I have left California

The weather forecast for Truckee included a 100 percent chance of rain tomorrow, so I decided to leave Sebastopol today and beat the mountain weather (nonetheless, a few sprinkles hit my windshield as I came down from Donner Pass). I am now in Reno and have checked in to my motel. It looks like it should be a relatively quiet room, well away from the street, in a building behind the lobby and swimming pool.IMG_20190414_135906 (1)
There are still several feet of snow on the ground in the Sierras, above 5000 feet. Reno, after a relatively (by recent standards) wet winter, is a greener shade of dry. You can see snow covered mountains.

Reno isn’t as friendly for vegans as it was last time I was here, a few years ago. I’ve found my way to House of Mexica; I am hypersensitive to onions, peppers, and cilantro, so I made this choice with some trepidation, but I got a burger that was entirely decent.


Brexit

I’m no fan of polls now that the response rate is something like nine percent. But they obviously still have an impact as we can see with the Telegraph leading with a panic about the Tories possibly getting drummed out of office for failing to deliver Brexit. While an election that could produce such a result has yet to be called, backbenchers continue to maneuver, looking for a way—it looks like they just might find it—to call another vote of confidence in Theresa May.[1]

Edward Malnick and Christopher Hope, “Tories face 60 seat loss amid Brexit backlash as ‘Corbyn bound for No 10,’” Telegraph, April 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/13/tories-face-election-wipe-party-course-lose-60-seats-hand-corbyn/


  1. [1]Edward Malnick and Christopher Hope, “Tories face 60 seat loss amid Brexit backlash as ‘Corbyn bound for No 10,’” Telegraph, April 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/13/tories-face-election-wipe-party-course-lose-60-seats-hand-corbyn/

Julian Assange arrested

Updates

  1. Originally published, April 11, 6:40 pm.
  2. April 11, 8:07 pm:
    • Julian Assange lost support—becoming a clearly unsympathetic figure—with Wikileaks’ publication of Democratic Party dirty laundry (that badly needed airing) and with his near-endorsement of Donald Trump. Philip Bump reviews what is and is not known about Assange’s role in 2016, including in alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.[1]
    • Speaking of alleged Russian hacking, the Department of Homeland Security (a fascist name if ever there was one) has notified state election officials that Russians visited all fifty states’ election websites and obtained at least some sample ballots and voter registration information.[2] Someone who’s actually paying attention might notice that this is all public information, but no, let’s just scapegoat the Russians instead.
  3. April 12, 9:25 am:
    • Elon Musk wants people to work eighty hours per week.[3] And Jack Dorsey has a ‘biohack’ that invites a comparison to anorexia.[4] I’m going to have to think about this more but it strikes me that there’s something awfully weird about high-flying tech executives taking on the human body as if it is something to be given up for Lent.
  4. April 12, 12:39 pm:
    • Owen Jones hits all the right notes in opposing Julian Assange’s likely extradition to the United States.[5]
  5. April 12, 6:30 pm:
    • Those who believe in the rule of law should be freaking out: Donald Trump apparently promised Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan a pardon should McAleenan end up in jail for turning migrants away at the border and wants to send asylum-seekers to “sanctuary cities.”[6]
    • As it heads toward an IPO, Uber continues to face problems with corporate culture and drivers. It admits that drivers may become even more unhappy as the company cuts compensation in a (likely vain) quest for profitability.[7]
  6. April 13, 10:40 pm:
    • George Monbiot argues that neoliberalism has gone farther in privatization and reduction to quantification than even Ludwig von Mises, the capitalist libertarian whom I had the impression would privatize even fire departments, advocated.[8]

Julian Assange

Assange-Trump-Toilet-941
Cartoon by Steve Bell via the Guardian, April 12, 2019, fair use.

William Booth et al., “WikiLeaks’ Assange arrested in London, accused by U.S. of conspiring in 2010 computer hacking attempt,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/wikileakss-julian-assange-evicted-from-ecuador-embassy-in-london/2019/04/11/1bd87b58-8f5f-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1d_story.html

Philip Bump, “What we know — and don’t know — about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/11/what-we-know-dont-know-about-wikileaks-julian-assange-campaign/

Danica Kirka, “Assange will fight extradition to the US after being arrested, charged,” Boston Globe, April 11, 2019, https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/world/2019/04/11/london-police-arrest-wikileaks-founder-julian-assange/xqaIjgHFWoguTJofEZRSFP/story.html?s_campaign=breakingnews:newsletter

Owen Jones, “Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/julian-assange-extradition-wikileaks-america-crimes


Brexit

Brexit-Halloween
Cartoon by Bob Moran via the Telegraph, April 12, 2019, fair use.

Michael Birnbaum and William Booth, “E.U. leaders offer to extend Brexit until October, avoiding chaotic exit on Friday,” Washington Post, April 10, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/theresa-may-heads-to-decisive-eu-summit-to-beg-for-more-time-before-britain-brexits/2019/04/10/1b342ffa-5622-11e9-aa83-504f086bf5d6_story.html

Daniel Boffey and Rowena Mason, “Theresa May agrees to October Brexit as Donald Tusk warns UK ‘don’t waste this time,’” Guardian, April 11, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/11/may-agrees-to-october-brexit-after-franco-german-carve-up

Gordon Rayner et al., “EU delays Brexit date to Hallowe’en – with review in June – on bruising night in Brussels,” Telegraph, April 11, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/10/eu-delays-brexit-date-halloween-review-june-bruising-night/


Donald Trump

Brian Faler, “Treasury misses congressional deadline for turning over Trump’s tax returns,” Politico, April 10, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/04/10/trump-tax-returns-congress-1342027


Maslow’s Hierarchy

Lila MacLellan, “‘Maslow’s pyramid’ is based on an elitist misreading of the psychologist’s work,” Quartz, April 10, 2019, https://qz.com/work/1588491/maslow-didnt-make-the-pyramid-that-changed-management-history/


Roman Catholic Pedophilia

Benedict would blame the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s for the Catholic Church’s pedophilia problem. “Some analysts noted that clerical abuse cases existed well before the 1960s.”[9]


2016 Elections

Sean Gallagher, “DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016,” Ars Technica, April 10, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/04/dhs-fbi-say-election-systems-in-50-states-were-targeted-in-2016/


Dieting

Monica Hesse, “The key to glorifying a questionable diet? Be a tech bro and call it ‘biohacking,’” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-key-to-glorifying-a-questionable-diet-be-a-tech-bro-and-call-it-biohacking/2019/04/11/12368e2c-5ba2-11e9-842d-7d3ed7eb3957_story.html


Migration

Philip Bump, “Trump thinks sending migrants to immigrant-heavy, immigrant-friendly cities is a punishment,” Washington Post, April 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/12/white-house-wanted-send-migrants-cities-with-lot-immigrants/

Jake Tapper, “Trump told CBP head he’d pardon him if he were sent to jail for violating immigration law,” CNN, April 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/12/politics/trump-cbp-commissioner-pardon/index.html


Uber

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


Neoliberalism

George Monbiot, “Quantomania,” April 13, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/04/13/quantomania/


  1. [1]Philip Bump, “What we know — and don’t know — about WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and the 2016 campaign,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/11/what-we-know-dont-know-about-wikileaks-julian-assange-campaign/
  2. [2]Sean Gallagher, “DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016,” Ars Technica, April 10, 2019, https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/04/dhs-fbi-say-election-systems-in-50-states-were-targeted-in-2016/
  3. [3]Nathan Crooks, “Elon Musk Says You Can Change the World Working 80 Hours a Week,” Bloomberg, November 26, 2019, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-26/elon-musk-says-you-can-change-the-world-working-80-hours-a-week
  4. [4]Monica Hesse, “The key to glorifying a questionable diet? Be a tech bro and call it ‘biohacking,’” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-key-to-glorifying-a-questionable-diet-be-a-tech-bro-and-call-it-biohacking/2019/04/11/12368e2c-5ba2-11e9-842d-7d3ed7eb3957_story.html
  5. [5]Owen Jones, “Whatever you think of Julian Assange, his extradition to the US must be opposed,” Guardian, April 12, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/12/julian-assange-extradition-wikileaks-america-crimes
  6. [6]Philip Bump, “Trump thinks sending migrants to immigrant-heavy, immigrant-friendly cities is a punishment,” Washington Post, April 12, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/12/white-house-wanted-send-migrants-cities-with-lot-immigrants/; Jake Tapper, “Trump told CBP head he’d pardon him if he were sent to jail for violating immigration law,” CNN, April 12, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/12/politics/trump-cbp-commissioner-pardon/index.html
  7. [7]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
  8. [8]George Monbiot, “Quantomania,” April 13, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/04/13/quantomania/
  9. [9]Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli, “Ex-Pope Benedict contradicts Pope Francis in unusual intervention on sexual abuse,” Washington Post, April 11, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/speaking-out-at-this-difficult-hour-a-once-quiet-ex-pope-pens-a-lengthy-letter-on-sexual-abuse/2019/04/11/0ffa162e-5c1a-11e9-a00e-050dc7b82693_story.html

Donald Trump goes berzerk on migration

Even for an administration given to chaos, that seems to me to regard chaos as an operating principle, the present moment verges on the exceptional. This is a moment when, if I didn’t have such a low opinion of Donald Trump’s intelligence, I might ask what our attention is being diverted from.


Updates

  1. Originally published, April 9, 12:46 pm.
  2. April 9, 7:17 pm

Migration

Alexander Bolton, “GOP fears Trump return to family separations,” Hill, April 8, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/437930-gop-fears-trump-return-to-family-separations

Brent Kendall and Louise Radnofsky, “Judge Blocks Trump Administration Policy of Returning Asylum Seekers to Mexico,” Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-blocks-trump-administration-policy-of-returning-asylum-seekers-to-mexico-11554758038

Seung Min Kim, “Grassley warns White House not to oust any more top immigration officials,” Washington Post, April 8, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/grassley-warns-white-house-not-to-oust-any-more-top-immigration-officials/2019/04/08/0b896e26-5a55-11e9-b8e3-b03311fbbbfe_story.html

Brett Samuels, “Trump denies he’s planning to restart family separations at border,” Hill, April 9, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/438050-trump-says-hes-not-planning-to-restart-family-separations-at-border

Jake Tapper, “Trump pushed to close El Paso border, told admin officials to resume family separations and agents not to admit migrants,” CNN, April 9, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/08/politics/trump-family-separation-el-paso-kirstjen-nielsen/index.html


Climate change

George Monbiot, “Rewild the World,” April 7, 2019, https://www.monbiot.com/2019/04/07/rewild-the-world/


Automation

Sarah Nassauer and Chip Cutter, “Walmart Is Rolling Out the Robots,” Wall Street Journal, April 9, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/walmart-is-rolling-out-the-robots-11554782460


Donald Trump

Damian Paletta, “Mnuchin reveals White House lawyers consulted Treasury on Trump tax returns, despite law meant to limit political involvement,” Washington Post, April 9, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/white-house-treasury-lawyers-discussed-trumps-tax-returns-before-democrats-request-mnuchin-says/2019/04/09/9693618e-5ad2-11e9-842d-7d3ed7eb3957_story.html


Israel

Michael Lerner, “Racism and Israel’s election: How did the Jewish state become an oppressive state?” Tikkun, April 9, 2019, https://www.tikkun.org/racism-and-israels-election-how-did-the-jewish-state-become-an-oppressive-state


The toll of a failed Ph.D.

Updates

  1. Originally published, April 1, 9:08 am.
  2. April 2, 1:44 am:
    • It is no longer unclear that any Brexit option commands majority support in the British parliament. We now know that none of them do.[1]
  3. April 2, 9:12 am:
    • At least I haven’t cornered you in a room with a slide projector and screen. As my planned departure date, April 15, for western Massachusetts nears, I am trying to view my present surroundings as if I will never see them again. Most of these photographs are taken in Marin County, but not all. I am preserving the metadata, so you should be able to find the locations. I expect this effort to continue up to my departure so it makes sense to check back.
    • Theresa May may be attempting to use the threat of a snap general election to bully her party into submission.[2] It does not appear to be working as Michel Barnier warns that a hard Brexit “becomes day after day more likely.”[3]
  4. April 2, 11:07 am:
    • In an article from last year, Katy Hayward explains what maximum facilitation (“max fac”) and technology (hard Brexiteers’ wet dream “answer” to the Irish border problem) would look like. Surprise, surprise: It’s still a border. There would still need to be customs checks. There would still need to be intrusive border surveillance. And people would suffer all this along a border that weaves through their personal and commercial lives.[4]
  5. April 2, 5:57 pm:
    • Brexit is a train wreck in progress and I’m just not seeing it get any better. Theresa May is now negotiating with Labor to try to find a path to passage for her deal, the same deal that Parliament rejected three—yes, three times and the same deal that everyone but her has said is dead on arrival from the beginning. Labor wants a customs union. She doesn’t. Her fellow Tories will likely want her head[5] so maybe, just maybe, we’ll start to see light at the end of the tunnel here.
    • Michel Barnier laid out options for avoiding a hard Brexit to the U.K. parliament. They include Theresa May’s deal, a Norway-style relationship, or a customs union.[6] There’s really nothing new here and I don’t see how it advances anything.
    • Having it your way at Burger King might soon include the Impossible Burger. The chain is testing the vegan burger patties,[7] but I’m guessing that, like Carl’s Jr. with the Beyond Burger,[8] it won’t be certified vegan because the fast food chains prepare the burgers using the same facilities and equipment used for the usual flesh-based versions.
  6. April 3, 12:40 am:
  7. April 3, 12:53 pm:
    • I guess I can’t imagine this being a surprise to anyone: Tories are furious about Theresa May’s overtures to Labour on passing her Brexit deal.[9] Meanwhile, European leaders seem more likely to offer a long extension than a short one.[10]
  8. April 4, 12:30 pm:
    • Electricity can be used to make lead pipes less dangerous.[11]
    • Such a surprise: It seems there may have been more to Robert Mueller’s report than William Barr let on. Supposedly, it moves us farther from Donald Trump’s alleged ‘exoneration.’[12]
  9. April 5, 11:42 am:
    • The New York Times got the scoop[13] but the Washington Post got the story on Mueller team discontent with William Barr’s summary.[14]
    • There were “[t]rees growing near the South Pole, sea levels [were] 20 metres higher than now, and global temperatures [were] 3C-4C warmer” the last time the earth “had as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as it does today.”[15]
    • It isn’t that cats don’t recognize their name—they do—but that they don’t recognize it as referring to them. Rather, they may have a pleasant association with the sound of their name.[16] I’m hoping the cats that have been lost to me, especially Admiral Janeway, over the years can hear their names a lot.
    • Ecuador may be moving to expel Julian Assange from its London embassy. Then again, it might not.[17]
    • I’ve been inclined toward skepticism about fast food outlets offering products such as the Beyond Burger or the Impossible Burger. Because they can’t be certified vegan, the appeal to vegans will be limited. But here’s where I was wrong: It turns out that sales, largely to omnivores, are rising.[18]
  10. April 5, 1:25 pm:
    • Theresa May has ceased to make any sense whatsoever on Brexit as she now requests an extension to June 30 but hopes to get out before May 23 when European Union elections are due. That said, her government will prepare to participate in those elections.[19]
  11. April 5, 5:54 pm:
    • “Reefer madness,” best understood as a social panic opposing marijuana legalization, lives on as some California cities have filed suit against a state regulation permitting delivery even in jurisdictions that oppose legal businesses, which is to say these local governments prefer forcing even medical marijuana patients to seek out the black market.[20]
    • “Former Vice President Joe Biden said Friday that he’s not sorry for his past actions that some women have said made them uncomfortable, but that he’s sorry he didn’t understand more at the time.”[21] To put it mildly, this is insufficient, as I explain in a new blog post, entitled, “Joe Biden blows his #MeToo moment.”
  12. April 6, 3:30 am:
    • Jeremy Corbyn’s talks with Theresa May on Brexit are going about as well as expected. Which is to say, not well at all.[22] We seem to be a point where it is impossible to be too pessimistic.
  13. April 6, 12:05 pm:
    • A third federal judge has struck down the Trump administration’s inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census.[23]

Lost Ph.D.’s

Somewhere in—I’m pretty sure—in a conservative publication, I saw the description of a “failed Ph.D.” as one who had failed to secure a tenure-track position within one year of the degree.

It’s been three years since I finished my Ph.D. The only interviews I have had (and a very paltry few at that) have been sham interviews—even intitutions I had been informed were “desperate” always managed to have (informally, of course) selected someone else over me; I was there so search committees could claim to have interviewed other candidates.

And understand that each application to a university I submit should be accompanied by individually written letters of reference from members of my dissertation committee: This isn’t just my hell; it is their’s as well and profoundly unfair to all concerned.

All this takes a toll and as Herb Childress notes, it is part of a larger pattern of commodified labor under neoliberalism. But the larger part of his article is psychological: Because adjuncts are often excluded from teaching graduate level courses, the process of earning a higher degree means that our reference group, the group of people we measure ourselves by, consists largely of successful professors (who indeed evaluate our work), the ones who made it, often before neoliberalism sunk its talons into higher education budgets. They are where we should be and where we are not; even as it happens to so many, an individual job search feels like personal failure. And even understanding the situation rationally barely if at all mitigates the shame and the stigma of low-level work following a high accomplishment that itself portends potential that not merely goes to waste but is positively rejected.[24]

Herb Childress, “This Is How You Kill a Profession,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/2019-03-27-childress

Chronicle of Higher Education, “‘This Was a Hell Not Unlike Anything Dante Conjured.’ Readers Share Their Stories of Fraught Academic Careers,” March 29, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/This-Was-a-Hell-Not-Unlike/246018


Brexit

Might we suspect, with Bob Moran’s cartoon, the Telegraph of feeling betrayed by Theresa May’s overtures to Labor?

Bob Moran, in the Telegraph, April 4, 2019, fair use.

Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735

Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot, and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: May calls for cabinet showdown as MPs reject all options,” Guardian, April 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/01/brexit-deadlock-continues-as-mps-fail-to-find-compromise

Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Theresa May to Seek Further Brexit Extension, Talks With Labour,” Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-s-may-to-seek-talks-with-labour-further-brexit-extension-11554226292

Gordon Rayner et al., “Theresa May ignores Cabinet support for no-deal Brexit as she turns to Jeremy Corbyn for help,” Telegraph, April 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/02/brexit-vote-latest-news-philip-hammond-propose-putting-theresa/

Bruno Waterfield et al., “No-deal Brexit ‘more likely by the day,’” Times, April 2, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/mps-reject-brexit-plans-again-in-boost-for-may-pbzpfbhqn

Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Brexit: Britain preps for E.U. elections, three years after voting to leave the E.U.,” Washington Post, April 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/britain-to-take-part-in-european-parliament-elections-signaling-a-brexit-delay/2019/04/05/e7042028-577f-11e9-a047-748657a0a9d1_story.html

Max Colchester and Laurence Norman, “Theresa May Seeks Brexit Extension to June 30,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-seeks-brexit-extension-to-june-30-11554452422

Heather Stewart and Daniel Boffey, “Hopes of Brexit progress fade as Labour says May has failed to compromise,” Guardian, April 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/05/labour-says-may-unable-to-compromise-as-brexit-talks-stall


Fast food

Tara Duggan, “Burger King strikes a deal to test out the plant-based Impossible Burger,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 1, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/Impossible-Foods-to-test-out-its-plant-based-13731103.php

Dee-Ann Durbin, “Is that wheat protein in your Whopper? Plant-based meat sales rising,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-meat-substitutes-popularity-20190403-story.html


James Comey

Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti, “Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed,” New York Times, April 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/william-barr-mueller-report.html

Ellen Nakashima, Carol D. Leonnig, and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Limited information Barr has shared about Russia investigation frustrated some on Mueller’s team,” Washington Post, April 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/limited-information-barr-has-shared-about-russia-investigation-frustrated-some-on-muellers-team/2019/04/03/c98e8a02-567a-11e9-814f-e2f46684196e_story.html


Lead Pipes

Electricity can be used to make lead pipes less dangerous.[25]

Robert F. Service, “To seal off dangerous lead pipes, just add electricity,” Science, April 3, 2019, doi: 10.1126/science.aax5712


Climate Change

Damian Carrington, “Last time CO2 levels were this high, there were trees at the South Pole,” Guardian, April 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/03/south-pole-tree-fossils-indicate-impact-of-climate-change


Cats

Malcolm Ritter, “Meow hear this: Study says cats react to sound of their name,” Phys.org, April 4, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-04-meow-cats-react.html


Julian Assange

Clive Hammond, “Julian Assange to be expelled from Ecuadorian embassy in London WITHIN HOURS say WikiLeaks,” Express, April 5, 2019, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1110035/Julian-Assange-news-WikiLeaks-Ecuador-embassy-london-expelled-INA-paper-edward-snowden


Marijuana

Patrick McGreevy, “California cities sue state over home deliveries of pot,” Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-sued-pot-deliveries-20190405-story.html


Joe Biden

Brett Samuels, “Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done,’” Hill, April 5, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437582-biden-im-not-sorry-for-anything-that-i-have-ever-done


Unauthorized migration

Hansi Lo Wang, “Trump Administration’s Census Citizenship Question Plans Halted By 3rd Judge,” National Public Radio, April 5, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/05/700982993/trump-administrations-census-citizenship-question-plans-halted-by-third-judge


  1. [1]Heather Stewart, Jessica Elgot, and Rowena Mason, “Brexit: May calls for cabinet showdown as MPs reject all options,” Guardian, April 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/01/brexit-deadlock-continues-as-mps-fail-to-find-compromise
  2. [2]Bruno Waterfield et al., “No-deal Brexit ‘more likely by the day,’” Times, April 2, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/mps-reject-brexit-plans-again-in-boost-for-may-pbzpfbhqn
  3. [3]Michel Barnier, quoted in Bruno Waterfield et al., “No-deal Brexit ‘more likely by the day,’” Times, April 2, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/mps-reject-brexit-plans-again-in-boost-for-may-pbzpfbhqn
  4. [4]Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735
  5. [5]Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Theresa May to Seek Further Brexit Extension, Talks With Labour,” Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-k-s-may-to-seek-talks-with-labour-further-brexit-extension-11554226292
  6. [6]Deutschewelle, “EU’s Barnier: May deal is the only path to orderly Brexit,” April 2, 2019, https://www.dw.com/en/eus-barnier-may-deal-is-the-only-path-to-orderly-brexit/a-48157813
  7. [7]Tara Duggan, “Burger King strikes a deal to test out the plant-based Impossible Burger,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 1, 2019, https://www.sfchronicle.com/food/article/Impossible-Foods-to-test-out-its-plant-based-13731103.php
  8. [8]Carls Jr., “Introducing the Beyond Famous Star with Cheese,” n.d., https://www.carlsjr.com/beyondburger
  9. [9]Gordon Rayner et al., “Theresa May ignores Cabinet support for no-deal Brexit as she turns to Jeremy Corbyn for help,” Telegraph, April 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/02/brexit-vote-latest-news-philip-hammond-propose-putting-theresa/
  10. [10]Bruno Waterfield and Adam Sage, “Brexit: EU leaders set to reject request for second short delay,” Times, April 3, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/brexit-eu-leaders-set-to-reject-request-for-second-short-delay-rxmpxxld2
  11. [11]Robert F. Service, “To seal off dangerous lead pipes, just add electricity,” Science, April 3, 2019, doi: 10.1126/science.aax5712
  12. [12]Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti, “Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed,” New York Times, April 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/william-barr-mueller-report.html
  13. [13]Nicholas Fandos, Michael S. Schmidt, and Mark Mazzetti, “Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed,” New York Times, April 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/03/us/politics/william-barr-mueller-report.html
  14. [14]Ellen Nakashima, Carol D. Leonnig, and Rosalind S. Helderman, “Limited information Barr has shared about Russia investigation frustrated some on Mueller’s team,” Washington Post, April 4, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/limited-information-barr-has-shared-about-russia-investigation-frustrated-some-on-muellers-team/2019/04/03/c98e8a02-567a-11e9-814f-e2f46684196e_story.html
  15. [15]Damian Carrington, “Last time CO2 levels were this high, there were trees at the South Pole,” Guardian, April 3, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/apr/03/south-pole-tree-fossils-indicate-impact-of-climate-change
  16. [16]Malcolm Ritter, “Meow hear this: Study says cats react to sound of their name,” Phys.org, April 4, 2019, https://phys.org/news/2019-04-meow-cats-react.html
  17. [17]Clive Hammond, “Julian Assange to be expelled from Ecuadorian embassy in London WITHIN HOURS say WikiLeaks,” Express, April 5, 2019, https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1110035/Julian-Assange-news-WikiLeaks-Ecuador-embassy-london-expelled-INA-paper-edward-snowden
  18. [18]Dee-Ann Durbin, “Is that wheat protein in your Whopper? Plant-based meat sales rising,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 2019, https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-meat-substitutes-popularity-20190403-story.html
  19. [19]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Brexit: Britain preps for E.U. elections, three years after voting to leave the E.U.,” Washington Post, April 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/britain-to-take-part-in-european-parliament-elections-signaling-a-brexit-delay/2019/04/05/e7042028-577f-11e9-a047-748657a0a9d1_story.html; Max Colchester and Laurence Norman, “Theresa May Seeks Brexit Extension to June 30,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-seeks-brexit-extension-to-june-30-11554452422
  20. [20]Patrick McGreevy, “California cities sue state over home deliveries of pot,” Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-sued-pot-deliveries-20190405-story.html
  21. [21]Brett Samuels, “Biden: ‘I’m not sorry for anything that I have ever done,’” Hill, April 5, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/437582-biden-im-not-sorry-for-anything-that-i-have-ever-done
  22. [22]Heather Stewart and Daniel Boffey, “Hopes of Brexit progress fade as Labour says May has failed to compromise,” Guardian, April 5, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/apr/05/labour-says-may-unable-to-compromise-as-brexit-talks-stall
  23. [23]Hansi Lo Wang, “Trump Administration’s Census Citizenship Question Plans Halted By 3rd Judge,” National Public Radio, April 5, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/05/700982993/trump-administrations-census-citizenship-question-plans-halted-by-third-judge
  24. [24]Herb Childress, “This Is How You Kill a Profession,” Chronicle of Higher Education, March 27, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/interactives/2019-03-27-childress; Chronicle of Higher Education, “‘This Was a Hell Not Unlike Anything Dante Conjured.’ Readers Share Their Stories of Fraught Academic Careers,” March 29, 2019, https://www.chronicle.com/article/This-Was-a-Hell-Not-Unlike/246018
  25. [25]Robert F. Service, “To seal off dangerous lead pipes, just add electricity,” Science, April 3, 2019, doi: 10.1126/science.aax5712

Brexit might not happen for a long time

Updates

  1. Originally published, March 20, 1:44 pm.
  2. March 21, 10:29 am:
    • At the New Yorker, Sam Knight catches well some—only some—of the sense of the farce that Brexit has become.[1]
  3. March 21, 7:58 pm:
    • Theresa May went to Brussels to ask for a Brexit delay. She got one, but not the one she asked for. The European Union is giving her a deadline to pass the deal she previously negotiated. Otherwise it will, if the E.U. approves (corrected[2] March 22, 1:07 am), be a longer delay, which she explicitly was not asking for, but only if the United Kingdom agrees to participate in upcoming EU elections.[3] Absolutely none of this should be surprising. I was struck, on the contrary, by how sensible it all seems. I expect it will all be for naught, that Britain still crashes out with a hard Brexit. But that, I’m guessing by design, will be the fault of delusional British politicians, not the European ones.
  4. March 22, 1:07 am:
    • The Telegraph has the blow-by-blow on how it all went down with Theresa May in Brussels.[4] (Brexit)
  5. March 23, 1:17 am:
    • It’s a wrap. Robert Mueller has submitted his report. We know almost nothing of its contents, although it has been said to be comprehensive, and it apparently recommends no further charges.[5] (James Comey)
  6. March 24, 7:16 am:
  7. March 24, 2:42 pm:
    • Attorney General William Barr reports that Robert Mueller found no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign. As to obstruction of justice, Mueller’s team apparently did not reach a conclusion, either to exonerate or to accuse Trump. Some Democrats are claiming “knowledge” of “collusion” and have vowed to find out why Mueller isn’t filing charges accordingly.[6] (James Comey)
  8. March 25, 6:28 pm:
    • I’m finally starting to see less heated reaction to William Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s report now. This,[7] by Henry Olsen in the Washington Post, seems sober enough. (James Comey)
  9. March 25, 9:51 am:
    • Brexit is still in the sideshow phase, but Parliament will now be taking a series of “indicative votes” to see what sort of deal might gain majority support. Meanwhile, Theresa May continues to flog her plan, you know, the one everybody—except her—rightly said was dead months ago and really still is.[8] Folks here continue to forget that the European Union will still need to agree to any proposal, which probably means hope of a negotiated settlement is dead, at least until Parliament recognizes it has lost confidence in May. It all reminds me of a saying apparently attributed incorrectly to Winston Churchill: “The United States can always be relied upon to do the right thing — having first exhausted all possible alternatives.”[9] Except we’re talking about Parliament, not the United States (which can generally be counted on to do the wrong thing) and we don’t know what they’ll do, let alone what “the right thing” to do even is.
    • Binyamin Netanyahu faces both a re-election challenge and corruption charges.[10] In a fairly blatant attempt to boost Netanyahu’s re-election prospects, Donald Trump recognized Israeli control of the Golan Heights.[11]
    • At some point soon, Parts-Unknown.org, my main site, will be going down while I move the site off my home server and back to virtual hosting. (Among other things, the site hosts materials related to my dissertation and should remain on line for at least two more years.)
  10. March 26, 12:29 pm:
    • I have to stop my self from making claims like “Donald Trump is the most obnoxious president ever” or that he “is the worst president ever.” They tempt me, but from what I gather, there have been pretty heinous individuals who occupied that office over the centuries and I simply haven’t done the historical research necessary to 1) identify usable criteria for selecting which contender would be the worst president ever and 2) figure out which cretin best fits that criteria. That said, it goes without saying for anyone except Trump’s base, that he is a terrible president who ought to be removed and I don’t see a serious argument for keeping Trump in office. Now that we have William Barr’s summary of Robert Mueller’s report,[12] the case for impeachment appears weak and Nancy Pelosi’s caution on the matter appears warranted.[13] But we need to see the actual report[14] and we should remember that Trump’s legal difficulties extended far beyond Mueller.[15]
  11. March 26, 1:01 pm:
    • Boris Johnson (remember Little Mikey?) hates everything about Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Also, the (Northern Irish) Democratic Unionist Party favors delay over May’s deal.[16]
  12. March 27, 12:32 pm:
    • In a last ditch attempt to pass her Brexit deal, Theresa May has promised to stand down. Critics argue she has made this promise before. Meanwhile, the indicative votes have begun; some might see this as a sign of political malpractice: it is unclear that any Brexit proposal garners majority support in Parliament.[17]
    • There are many steps in the server migration; the downtime has not yet begun for parts-unknown.org:
      1. Copy data (mostly done; can only be completed when I actually begin)
      2. Get satellite photo script working (currently in progress).
      3. Configure database
      4. Load database
      5. Get database backups working
      6. Configure web site. This is the downtime. Not only do I have to convert the configuration from FreeBSD to Debian Linux, with changes in how I’m arranging things on the Google Cloud virtual machine, but I have to set up an SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt. In order to even test this, I have to change the DNS entries to point to the virtual machine.
  13. March 27, 4:33 pm:
    • The script that generates 72-hour gifs of satellite photos from around the world appears to now be working. The downtime has not yet begun for parts-unknown.org:
      1. Copy data (mostly done; can only be completed when I actually begin)
      2. Get satellite photo script working (complete).
      3. Configure database (complete)
      4. Load database. I will need the database backup that includes the update at this time. (Database backups currently being uploaded.)
      5. Get database backups working from the new system.
      6. Configure web site. This is the downtime. Not only do I have to convert the configuration from FreeBSD to Debian Linux, with changes in how I’m arranging things on the Google Cloud virtual machine, but I have to set up an SSL certificate with Let’s Encrypt. In order to even test this, I have to change the DNS entries to point to the virtual machine.
    • Robert Mueller might be done but his grand jury lives on and “continu[es] robustly”[18] I’m thinking of unexploded ordnance.
  14. March 27, 5:52 pm:
    • So far at least, Theresa May’s offer to resign appears to have backfired as the Democratic Unionist Party insists that her deal “threatens the union.”[19]
    • Database backups are still uploading to the virtual machine.
  15. March 28, 9:19 am:
    • Data uploads are now nearly complete and I am now freezing updates to the web site. I just got through updating the Dokuwiki portion of the site; I have not yet begun looking at email or catching up on news for today.
  16. March 28, 12:28 pm:
    • All data is now copied as of 12:09 pm.
    • The database is loaded as of 12:15 pm.
    • DNS has been changed as of 12:27 pm. Parts-unknown.org should now be considered down. (If your DNS cache still points to the old location, it will continue to work.)
  17. March 29, 8:45 am:
  18. March 29, 11:29 am:
  19. March 30, 1:45 am:
    • A third vote was not the charm for Theresa May’s Brexit deal.[20] Among other things, this means Theresa May’s offer to resign[21] is now null and void. As parliament has failed to approve any plan in its indicative votes, she is now alluding to the possibility of a snap general election.[22]
  20. March 31, 2019, 11:45 am:
    • Theresa May will not be able to call a snap general election.[23] What I suggested of Boris Johnson above, that he reminds me of “Little Mikey” in cold cereal advertisements (“He won’t eat it! He hates everything!”) of a while ago, would seem to apply 1) to the Tories, and 2) to Parliament generally.

James Comey

WashingtonPost-TomToles
Tom Toles in the Washington Post, March 25, 2019, fair use.[24]

Donald Trump now says Robert Mueller’s report should be made public.[25] I dimly recall that at one point he promised the public could see his tax returns, too.

Now, honestly, I couldn’t care less about Trump’s tax returns. He’s rich so I’m already pretty clear that, one way or another, he’s a thief. The question here is about transparency. Will the evidence be publicly available or not?

Stephen Collinson, “New Mueller probe revelations explain Trump’s rage,” CNN, March 20, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/20/politics/donald-trump-russia-investigation-michael-cohen/index.html

Jordan Fabian, “Trump says public can see Mueller report,” Hill, March 20, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/434938-trump-on-mueller-report-well-see-if-its-legit

Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “Mueller did not find evidence the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, attorney general says,” Washington Post, March 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/republicans-and-democrats-brace-for-renewed-battles-over-mueller-report/2019/03/23/56d9f214-4db3-11e9-b79a-961983b7e0cd_story.html

Henry Olsen, “Hold off on your victory laps, conservatives,” Washington Post, March 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/25/hold-off-your-victory-laps-conservatives/

Darren Samuelsohn, “Mueller grand jury ‘continuing robustly,’ prosecutor says,” Politico, March 27, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/27/mueller-grand-jury-1238861


Brexit

Guardian-BenJennings
Ben Jennings in the Guardian, March 25, 2019, fair use.[26]

Theresa May acts like the differences over Brexit are small and can easily be bridged. In reality, these differences are vast, between the European Union and hard Brexiteers, between Theresa May and those same hard Brexiteers, with Labour, with the (Northern Irish) Democratic Unionist Party, and with ‘remainers.’ For all the bullshit, and all the failure to recognize bullshit as bullshit, a hard Brexit is now, by far, the most likely outcome.

Gordon Rayner, Steven Swinford, and Christopher Hope, “John Bercow causes ‘major constitutional crisis’ by blocking third vote on Brexit deal,” Telegraph, March 18, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/18/john-bercow-causes-major-constitutional-crisis-blocking-third/

Steven Swinford and Peter Foster, “The ‘nuclear option’: Queen could be asked to close Parliament early to get around Bercow ruling,” Telegraph, March 19, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/18/can-theresa-may-secure-vote-brexit-deal-john-bercow-threatened/

William Booth and Michael Birnbaum, “Britain’s May asks European Union for a three-month Brexit delay,” Washington Post, March 20, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/britains-may-asks-eu-for-three-month-brexit-delay/2019/03/20/142de48a-4b05-11e9-93d0-64dbcf38ba41_story.html

Harry Yorke, James Crisp, and Jack Maidment, “Donald Tusk suggests EU will only grant Article 50 extension if MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” Telegraph, March 20, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/20/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-wont-seek-long-delay-article/

Sam Knight, “Theresa May Has Poisoned the Well of British Politics,” New Yorker, March 21, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/theresa-may-has-poisoned-the-well-of-british-politics

Erin McLaughlin and Kara Fox, “Brexit delay agreed after tumultuous talks with Theresa May,” CNN, March 22, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/21/uk/brexit-delay-theresa-may-eu-gbr-intl/index.html

James Rothwell et al., “Brexit latest news: EU leaders offer UK delay to May 22 – if MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” Telegraph, March 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/21/brexit-latest-newstheresa-may-appeal-eu-leaders-time-article/

Gordon Rayner, “MPs back indicative votes to take control of Brexit process leaving Theresa May’s authority in shreds,” Telegraph, March 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/25/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-meet-cabinet-amid-pressure-leadership/

Jack Maidment and Harry Yorke, “Boris Johnson warns there is now ‘an appreciable risk’ that Brexit will not happen,” Telegraph, March 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/26/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-pressure-offer-mps-free-vote/

William Booth and Karla Adam, “Brexit: Theresa May bows to pressure and says she will resign before next phase,” Washington Post, March 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-votes/2019/03/27/d044bb28-4fcc-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html

Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Theresa May’s Vow to Resign Doesn’t Yield Brexit Breakthrough,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-vows-to-quit-to-get-brexit-deal-through-parliament-11553708350

Associated Press, “British lawmakers reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-brexit-uk-third-vote-theresa-may-20190329-story.html

Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/


Golan Heights

Steve Holland and Jeff Mason, “Trump recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli, boosting Netanyahu and angering Syria,” Reuters, March 25, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel/trump-recognizes-golan-heights-as-israeli-boosting-netanyahu-and-angering-syria-idUSKCN1R61S6


Nancy Pelosi

John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle, “Pelosi wins breathing room on impeachment after Mueller findings,” Politico, March 25, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/25/mueller-report-impeachment-pelosi-1234093


  1. [1]Sam Knight, “Theresa May Has Poisoned the Well of British Politics,” New Yorker, March 21, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-the-uk/theresa-may-has-poisoned-the-well-of-british-politics
  2. [2]James Rothwell et al., “Brexit latest news: EU leaders offer UK delay to May 22 – if MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” Telegraph, March 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/21/brexit-latest-newstheresa-may-appeal-eu-leaders-time-article/
  3. [3]Erin McLaughlin and Kara Fox, “Brexit delay agreed after tumultuous talks with Theresa May,” CNN, March 22, 2019, https://edition.cnn.com/2019/03/21/uk/brexit-delay-theresa-may-eu-gbr-intl/index.html
  4. [4]James Rothwell et al., “Brexit latest news: EU leaders offer UK delay to May 22 – if MPs back Theresa May’s deal,” Telegraph, March 22, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/21/brexit-latest-newstheresa-may-appeal-eu-leaders-time-article/
  5. [5]Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, “Mueller report sent to attorney general, signaling his Russia investigation has ended,” Washington Post, March 22, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mueller-report-sent-to-attorney-general-signaling-his-russia-investigation-has-ended/2019/03/22/b061d8fa-323e-11e9-813a-0ab2f17e305b_story.html
  6. [6]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “Mueller did not find evidence the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, attorney general says,” Washington Post, March 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/republicans-and-democrats-brace-for-renewed-battles-over-mueller-report/2019/03/23/56d9f214-4db3-11e9-b79a-961983b7e0cd_story.html
  7. [7]Henry Olsen, “Hold off on your victory laps, conservatives,” Washington Post, March 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/25/hold-off-your-victory-laps-conservatives/
  8. [8]Gordon Rayner, “MPs back indicative votes to take control of Brexit process leaving Theresa May’s authority in shreds,” Telegraph, March 25, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/25/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-meet-cabinet-amid-pressure-leadership/
  9. [9]Garson O’Toole, “Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing — After Exhausting All the Alternatives,” Quote Investigator, November 11, 2012, https://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/11/11/exhaust-alternatives/
  10. [10]Oren Liebermann and Andrew Carey, “Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges, pending hearing,” CNN, February 28, 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/28/middleeast/israel-benjamin-netanyahu-indictment-intl/index.html
  11. [11]Steve Holland and Jeff Mason, “Trump recognizes Golan Heights as Israeli, boosting Netanyahu and angering Syria,” Reuters, March 25, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-israel/trump-recognizes-golan-heights-as-israeli-boosting-netanyahu-and-angering-syria-idUSKCN1R61S6
  12. [12]Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky, “Mueller did not find evidence the Trump campaign conspired with Russia, attorney general says,” Washington Post, March 24, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/republicans-and-democrats-brace-for-renewed-battles-over-mueller-report/2019/03/23/56d9f214-4db3-11e9-b79a-961983b7e0cd_story.html
  13. [13]John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle, “Pelosi wins breathing room on impeachment after Mueller findings,” Politico, March 25, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/25/mueller-report-impeachment-pelosi-1234093
  14. [14]Henry Olsen, “Hold off on your victory laps, conservatives,” Washington Post, March 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/25/hold-off-your-victory-laps-conservatives/
  15. [15]Aaron Blake, “Virtually every organization Trump has run in recent years has been under investigation. Here’s where those probes stand,” Washington Post, February 5, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/02/05/big-investigations-trump-explained/; Jordan Fabian and Morgan Chalfant, “Trump’s legal woes worsen,” Hill, December 15, 2018, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/421491-trumps-legal-woes-worsen; Adam Serwer, “Trump’s Troubles Are Just Getting Started,” Atlantic, August 23, 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/08/trumps-troubles-are-just-getting-started/568246/
  16. [16]Jack Maidment and Harry Yorke, “Boris Johnson warns there is now ‘an appreciable risk’ that Brexit will not happen,” Telegraph, March 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/26/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-pressure-offer-mps-free-vote/
  17. [17]William Booth and Karla Adam, “Brexit: Theresa May bows to pressure and says she will resign before next phase,” Washington Post, March 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-votes/2019/03/27/d044bb28-4fcc-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html
  18. [18]David Goodhand, quoted in Darren Samuelsohn, “Mueller grand jury ‘continuing robustly,’ prosecutor says,” Politico, March 27, 2019, https://www.politico.com/story/2019/03/27/mueller-grand-jury-1238861
  19. [19]Arlene Foster, quoted in Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Theresa May’s Vow to Resign Doesn’t Yield Brexit Breakthrough,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-vows-to-quit-to-get-brexit-deal-through-parliament-11553708350
  20. [20]Associated Press, “British lawmakers reject Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal for a third time,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-brexit-uk-third-vote-theresa-may-20190329-story.html
  21. [21]William Booth and Karla Adam, “Brexit: Theresa May bows to pressure and says she will resign before next phase,” Washington Post, March 27, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/brexit-votes/2019/03/27/d044bb28-4fcc-11e9-bdb7-44f948cc0605_story.html; Max Colchester and Jason Douglas, “Theresa May’s Vow to Resign Doesn’t Yield Brexit Breakthrough,” Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/theresa-may-vows-to-quit-to-get-brexit-deal-through-parliament-11553708350
  22. [22]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/
  23. [23]Michael Savage and Toby Helm, “Furious Tory MPs tell May: we’ll block snap Brexit
    election,” Guardian, March 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/mar/30/furious-tory-mps-tell-theresa-may-they-will-block-snap-election
  24. [24]Tom Toles, “In Trumpland, ‘not exonerated’ means ‘complete and total’ exoneration,” Washington Post, March 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/03/25/trumpland-not-exonerated-means-complete-total-exoneration/
  25. [25]Jordan Fabian, “Trump says public can see Mueller report,” Hill, March 20, 2019, https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/434938-trump-on-mueller-report-well-see-if-its-legit
  26. [26]Ben Jennings, [cartoon], Guardian, March 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2019/mar/24/ben-jennings-on-reports-that-michael-gove-could-act-as-caretaker-pm-cartoon