03 August, 2020

How the Pandemic Defeated America

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/09/coronavirus-american-failure/614191/

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

Since the pandemic began, I have spoken with more than 100 experts in a variety of fields. I’ve learned that almost everything that went wrong with America’s response to the pandemic was predictable and preventable. A sluggish response by a government denuded of expertise allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold. Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID‑19. The decades-long process of shredding the nation’s social safety net forced millions of essential workers in low-paying jobs to risk their life for their livelihood. The same social-media platforms that sowed partisanship and misinformation during the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Africa and the 2016 U.S. election became vectors for conspiracy theories during the 2020 pandemic.

[Residency]u/Dr_D-R-E details the horrific situation and working conditions as a physician in an overwhelmed hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Residency/comments/i2pqqf/my_gfs_np_friend_told_me_covid_hasnt_been_that/g06i6bf/

When you don’t know if you’re going to catch it because there just isn’t enough equipment, you start recording videos of yourself in the car on the way home so that your daughter will have some memory of you if you don’t make it, when you see your coworkers crying in the parking lot at the end of the day, noticing that a lot of people are carrying rosaries for the first time, when the attendings let it slip that they’re drinking more than usual at home to calm down. The hospital feels like it’s on fire, you know it’s on fire, you can see it’s on fire, but you still feel cold.

You can’t convey that to people. You can’t make them understand that.

I’ve worked in the inner city for almost my entire training, I’ve seen ridiculous shit, but I NEVER thought that at an American hospital, the infrastructure would be so pushed beyond our limit.

When I hear people bitch about how “hospitals used COVID to excuse poor quality care and protect negligent doctors” it makes my blood boil. How many times did they have to push patients on bipap with BP 70/30 into an elevator because that’s as stable as you could get them before moving to a higher level floor? Did they ever do a residency in pediatrics then have to titrate levophed and start dialysis on a 70 year old? Did they have to admit a 26 year old, look them in they eyes and say “this will help, you’re gonna be okay” before intubating and feeling this person was going to die... finding out 2 weeks later you were right?

Call me callous, angry, traumatized, but I hope some of these people encounter the hell that is COVID so they can eat their words from their precious, healthy populations that walk around mask free thinking they’re smarter than the herd.

Ask Herman Caine’s family what they think about masks. Survive stage 4 cancer but die because you can’t be bothered to wear a mask.

02 August, 2020

Shane Burcaw on being a "disabled person"

https://www.instagram.com/p/CDZpp-iDAps/?hl=en
As I got older, I began to realize that the things I was experiencing were just flat-out ableism in its many forms. Teachers talked down to me because they lacked an understanding of disability. Kids treated me differently because they lacked experience with disability. The systems that provide care were broken and needed fixing. The working world undervalued disabled workers and failed to provide accommodations.⁣

These are not problems inherent to me as a person; they are a reflection of society’s shortcomings. Being disabled isn’t bad; society treats disabled people badly.⁣

Today, I’m a disabled person. I am no longer ashamed of that language. I don’t feel a need to shy away from it to fit in with non-disabled people. My disability is not shameful or a problem. For me, this identity-first language fills me with pride, and this pride encourages me to fight for better access and treatment for myself and millions of others.

30 July, 2020

Government watchdog finds 'strong indicators of widespread fraud' in small business loan program

https://www.businessinsider.com/widespread-fraud-likely-in-ppp-bailout-program-payments-sba-watchdog-2020-7

The Small Business Administration's Inspector General said Tuesday the office found likely examples of pervasive fraud in the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, which provided funding to small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The watchdog office said its preliminary review found "strong indicators of widespread fraud." Specifically, its investigation into hundreds of hotline complaints found $250 million in loans and grants to "potentially ineligible recipients" and another $45.6 million in potential double payments. 

As of July 26, the SBA had given nearly $164 billion in loans through the program, it said. The potential errors represent about one-tenth of one percent of the program's total funding so far. 

29 July, 2020

What the Data Say About Police

There are large racial differences in police use of nonlethal force. My research team analyzed nearly five million police encounters from New York City. We found that when police reported the incidents, they were 53% more likely to use physical force on a black civilian than a white one. In a separate, nationally representative dataset asking civilians about their experiences with police, we found the use of physical force on blacks to be 350% as likely. This is true of every level of nonlethal force, from officers putting their hands on civilians to striking them with batons. We controlled for every variable available in myriad ways. That reduced the racial disparities by 66%, but blacks were still significantly more likely to endure police force.
• Compliance by civilians doesn’t eliminate racial differences in police use of force. Black civilians who were recorded as compliant by police were 21% more likely to suffer police aggression than compliant whites. We also found that the benefits of compliance differed significantly by race. This was perhaps our most upsetting result, for two reasons: The inequity in spite of compliance clashed with the notion that the difference in police treatment of blacks and whites was a rational response to danger. And it complicates what we tell our kids: Compliance does make you less likely to endure a beat-down—but the benefit is larger if you are white.

America Doesn’t Need a New Revolution

America looks different if you grew up, as I did, in Africa and the Middle East. There I had firsthand experience of three things. First, bloody internecine wars between Africans—with all the combatants dark-skinned, and no white people present. Second, the anarchy that comes when there is no police, no law and order. Third, the severe racism (as well as sexism) of a society such as Saudi Arabia, where de facto slavery still exists.
I came to the U.S. in 2006, having lived in the Netherlands since 1992. Like most immigrants, I came with a confidence that in America I would be judged on my merits rather than on the basis of racial or sexual prejudice.
There’s a reason the U.S. remains, as it has long been, the destination of choice for would-be migrants. We know that there is almost no difference in the unemployment rate for foreign-born and native-born workers—unlike in the European Union.
We immigrants see the downsides of American society: the expensive yet inefficient health-care system, the shambolic public schools in poor communities, the poverty that no welfare program can alleviate. But we also see, as Charles Murray and J.D. Vance have shown, that these problems aren’t unique to black America. White America is also, in Mr. Murray’s phrase, “coming apart” socially. Broken marriages and alienated young men are problems in Appalachia as much as in the inner cities.
If America is a chronically racist society, then why are the “deaths of despair” studied by Anne Case and Angus Deaton so heavily concentrated among middle-aged white Americans? Did the Covid-19 pandemic make us forget the opioid epidemic, which has disproportionately afflicted the white population?

28 July, 2020

There’s a Question My Confederate Ancestors Taught Me To Ask

https://www.persuasion.community/p/theres-a-question-my-confederate
155 years ago, the army of my ancestors folded its flags and stacked its arms. The tidal pull of tribalism carried away the men who gave me their name. Their legacy—and the legacy of every generation that has been caught up in the sweep of history in ways that harm us still today—should cause us all to pause. 
When the crowd says yes, consider the option of no. When the crowd says go, discern whether we should stop. And through it all, pray for God’s grace—that we’re not too foolish to know the truth or too weak to do what’s right.

Police: 'Umbrella Man' was a white supremacist trying to incite George Floyd rioting

A masked man who was seen in a viral video smashing the windows of a south Minneapolis auto parts store during the George Floyd protests, earning him the moniker “Umbrella Man,” is suspected to be a member of the Hell’s Angels biker gang seeking to incite racial tension in a demonstration that until then had been peaceful, police said.
A Minneapolis police arson investigator said the man’s actions at the AutoZone on East Lake Street set off a chain reaction that led to days of looting and rioting. The building was later burned to the ground.
“This was the first fire that set off a string of fires and looting throughout the precinct and the rest of the city,” Erika Christensen wrote in a search warrant affidavit filed in court this week. “Until the actions of the person your affiant has been calling ‘Umbrella man,’ the protests had been relatively peaceful. The actions of this person created an atmosphere of hostility and tension. Your affiant believes that this individual’s sole aim was to incite violence.”

27 July, 2020

Ta-Nehisi Coates Revisits the Case for Reparations


A lot of your article was about Chicago housing policy. It was a very technical analysis of housing policy. When people talked to me about the article—and I could tell they hadn’t read it—“So, Ta-Nehisi’s making a case for”—no, no, no, I said. First and foremost, it’s a dissection of a particular policy that’s emblematic of so many other policies.

Right, right. So, out of all of those policies of theft, I had to pick one. And that was really my goal. And the one I picked was housing, was our housing policy. Again, we have this notion that housing as it exists today sort of sprung up from black people coming north, maybe not finding the jobs that they wanted, and thus forming, you know, some sort of pathological culture, and white people, just being concerned citizens, fled to the suburbs. But beneath that was policy! The reason why black people were confined to those neighborhoods in the first place, and white people had access to neighborhoods further away, was because of political decisions. The government underwrote that, through F.H.A. loans, through the G.I. Bill. And that, in turn, caused the devaluing of black neighborhoods, and an inability to access credit, to even improve neighborhoods.

A Taxonomy of Fear

Some on the left still claim cancel culture doesn’t exist. Mass firings, they say, are not taking place. Only a few people—who probably deserved it!—have lost their jobs.
But it doesn’t require mass dismissals to put many people in a genuine state of unease and intimidation. A few chilling examples are enough to spread the fear to a lot of people that an inadvertent error can destroy your life. As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat writes, “the goal isn’t to punish everyone, or even very many someones; it’s to shame or scare just enough people to make the rest conform.”
And so dread settles in. Challenging books go untaught. Deep conversations are not had. Friendships are not formed. Classmates and colleagues eye each other with suspicion.
In her 2003 memoir, Azar Nafisi describes secretly teaching Lolita and other forbidden Western books to a small group of female students in Iran. Reading Lolita in Tehran portrays a group of students so committed to the expansion of their minds that they are willing to put their freedom at risk to read a novel.
In her 2019 book, The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars, Meghan Daum asks a colleague who teaches twentieth-century American literature at the University of Iowa whether he still teaches Lolita. “It’s just not worth the risk,” he tells her.

26 July, 2020

A Eulogy for a Friend, a Lament for our Nation

It never occurs to many of us—or maybe it occurs, but folks don’t care—that many people online are operating from a place of pain. The public bravado conceals a private vulnerability. 
In reality, we are not created to endure an avalanche of hate. Few people have the thick skin they might believe they possess. So we fire off broadsides and reel from the response. 
I must confess, the more I learn about the lives of people online and off, the more I see the profound depth of Christian commands to love our enemies, to bless those who persecute us, to respond to evil with good, to turn the other cheek. It’s about so much more than our witness. It’s part of Christ’s love (and ours) for our neighbors, including our enemies.
To me, one of the most poignant of all scriptures is Isaiah 42:3. Prophesying the coming Messiah, Isaiah declares, “a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench.” 
That person you call an enemy is so very often a bruised reed—even those enemies who can seem most aggressive, most outspoken. Shall we break them in our righteous response? Because remember, the alternative to turning my cheek is striking his. One alternative to blessing is cursing. One alternative to kindness is cruelty. And cruelty destroys lives.

Portland As I See It

https://arcdigital.media/portland-as-i-see-it-55c5214a35f2
The fact that some protesters cross the line from protected First Amendment activity to unlawful destruction is undisputed, as is the federal government’s authority to take reasonable measures to defend the courthouse. The legality of the responses actually chosen is open to numerous challenges. As Steve Vladeck explains at the Lawfare blog, questions remain as to exactly which laws are being enforced, why federal officers have made arrests away from the courthouse, why officers are not clearly identified, and why Homeland Security rather than the Department of Justice is leading the effort. The state of Oregon has filed suit against the government, so these questions may eventually be sorted out in court.
The question of whether the federal response is wise and humane, however, can assuredly be answered in the negative. Footage from recent nights of protests includes the beating of a 53-year-old Navy veteran, the teargassing of moms, and the shooting of a peaceful protester in the head with a rubber bullet, leaving him in need of reconstructive surgery.
It’s also abundantly obvious that if the aim of a federal show of force was to dispel the protests, the plan has backfired miserably. The numbers of protesters had dwindled substantially in recent weeks, but reports of heavily armed, unidentified, camouflaged federal officers abducting people off the street into unmarked vehicles and meting out violence on the people of Portland have thoroughly re-energized the populace. The ranks of hardened protesters are now supplemented by thousands of fresh faces, many of them difficult to believably portray as “anarchists” that “hate our country,” as the president described them on Monday.

25 July, 2020

Carl Sagan Predicts the Decline of America: Unable to Know “What’s True,” We Will Slide, “Without Noticing, Back into Superstition & Darkness” (1995)

http://www.openculture.com/2017/01/carl-sagan-predicts-the-decline-of-america.html
I have a foreboding of an America in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

23 July, 2020

Retraction for Johnson et al., Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings

The authors wish to note the following: “Our article estimated the role of officer characteristics in predicting the race of civilians fatally shot by police. A critique pointed out we had erroneously made statements about racial differences in the probability of being shot (1), and we issued a correction to rectify the statement (2).
Despite this correction, our work has continued to be cited as providing support for the idea that there are no racial biases in fatal shootings, or policing in general. To be clear, our work does not speak to these issues and should not be used to support such statements. We take full responsibility for not being careful enough with the inferences made in our original report, as this directly led to the misunderstanding of our research.
While our data and statistical approach were appropriate for investigating whether officer characteristics are related to the race of civilians fatally shot by police, they are inadequate to address racial disparities in the probability of being shot.

19 July, 2020

On cancer

White Supremacy Was Her World. And Then She Left.

People don’t leave the hate movement because a veil lifts and they are suddenly able to see hate for what it is. The truth is more disappointing. They leave because it makes sense for them, because the value hate once gave them has diminished or evaporated. Ms. Olsen seemed to know this, writing once on a blog, “The reality is, people rarely change their personality or ideals during adulthood, and if they do, it needs to be something they do on their own, for themselves.”
When the F.B.I. offered to pay her to inform on the Northwest Front, Ms. Olsen agreed. She worked as an informant for a few months, then cut ties with hate for good in late 2012. Shortly after, in an interview with the Southern Poverty Law Center, she said, “I realized much too late that this entire movement is a huge waste of life.”

17 July, 2020

Slavery and the Jews

The compilers have avoided another distinction that most historians regard as crucial--that between primary sources, written at the time, and secondary ones, written later on the basis of the primary sources. The evidence presented in the footnotes consists almost entirely of secondary historical accounts, written mostly by Jews and often in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when Jews newly arrived from Europe were trying to establish themselves as full participants in their new country. At that time many of those immigrants saw the African slave trade and slavery as a key feature of the American experience, and participation in it as truly American. In fact, it was.
Many of these early Jewish-American writers thus missed the hideousness and the tragedy of what they were describing. Even Korn's 1961 article today seems downright blind to the suffering of the victims of the slave trade and their descendants. Since then, however, Jewish-American scholars have written some of the best studies of the internal workings of African-American slave communities in North America, and have been applauded by many African-American scholars for their understanding.

David Shor’s Unified Theory of American Politics

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/david-shor-cancel-culture-2020-election-theory-polls.html
Mitt Romney and Donald Trump agreed on basically every issue, as did Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. And yet, a bunch of people changed their votes. And the reason that happened was because the salience of various issues changed. Both sides talked a lot more about immigration, and because of that, correlation between preferences on immigration and which candidate people voted for went up. In 2012, both sides talked about health care. In 2016, they didn’t. And so the correlation between views on health care and which candidate people voted for went down.
So this means that every time you open your mouth, you have this complex optimization problem where what you say gains you some voters and loses you other voters. But this is actually cool because campaigns have a lot of control over what issues they talk about.

16 July, 2020

You killed my father, sir

When Eliza Jumel divorced Aaron Burr, she was represented in their divorce trial by Alexander Hamilton Jr., 30 years after Burr killed Hamilton Sr.

"Excuse me, are you Aaron Burr, sir?"
"Depends, who's asking?"
"You've been served, sir."

h/t: https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/hsdmwl/til_aaron_burrs_2nd_wife_was_represented_in_their/fya8htw/

15 July, 2020

Iran admits its troops shot down a passenger jet and killed 176 people due to a string of colossal failures

A chain of serious mistakes led Iranian troops to fire on a passenger jet earlier this year, killing 176 people, a new report from Iran's Civil Aviation Organization reveals.
The Iranian military shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 in January due to human error, an improperly calibrated air defense system, communication problems, and a breach of engagement protocols, specifically firing without authorization, the report says.
The flight went down shortly after takeoff from Imam Khomeini International Airport on Jan. 8. While Iran initially claimed engine failure was to blame, it admitted days later, following reported foreign intelligence on the actual cause, that the passenger aircraft was shot down by a pair of surface-to-air missiles.

14 July, 2020

The McGirt Case Is a Historic Win for Tribes

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/mcgirt-case-historic-win-tribes/614071/

In the long Indigenous struggle for justice, McGirt v. Oklahoma might be one of the most important Supreme Court cases of all time. The decision, 5–4 in favor of McGirt and the tribe, acknowledges that Congress has never extinguished the reservation lands set aside for the Muscogee Creek Nation in 1866. Or, put more plainly, 19 million acres composing 47 percent of the state of Oklahoma—an area that’s home to 1.8 million people—is still Native land. Writing the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch grasped the gravity of the ruling. “On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise,” he wrote in an opening line sure to reverberate through Indian law and history. “Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word.” That the government must keep its promises and follow the law should hardly be controversial.

The Anti-Semitism We Didn’t See



Regardless of what happens with Jackson, the unfortunate truth is that some Black Americans have shown a certain cultural blindspot about Jews. Stereotypical and hurtful tropes about Jews are widely accepted in the African American community. As a kid, I heard elders in my family say in passing that Jewish people were consumed with making money, and that they “owned everything.” My relatives never dwelled on the subject, and nothing about their tone indicated that they thought anything they were saying was anti-Semitic—not that a lack of awareness would be any excuse. This also doesn’t mean that my family—or other African Americans—are more or less anti-Semitic than others in America, but experiencing the pain of discrimination and stereotyping didn’t prevent them from spreading harmful stereotypes about another group.

13 July, 2020

Twitter comment from claimed USPS worker

https://twitter.com/DingusJMcGee/status/1282435706925662209

This is unprecedented. USPS has, for all its failings and troubles, always been first and foremost about pushing out every single piece of mail we can every single day. The only directives we've ever had counter to that have been to hold bulk mail for a day to speed up 1st class

12 July, 2020

What do insanely wealthy people buy, that ordinary people know nothing about?

Let's get one thing out of the way. There are gradations of rich. I see four major breaking points[...]
Time. Yes, you can buy time. You literally never wait for anything. Travel? you fly private. Show up at the airport, sit down in the plane and the door closes and you take off in 2 minutes, and fly directly to where you are going. The plane waits for you. If you decide you want to leave at anytime, you drive (or take a helicopter to the airport and you leave. The pilots and stewardess are your employees. They do what you tell them to do. Dinner? Your driver drops you off at the front door and waits a few blocks away for however long you need. The best table is waiting for you. The celebrity chef has prepared a meal for you (because you give him so much catering business he wants you VERY happy) and he ensures service is impeccable. Golf? Your club is so exclusive there is always a tee time and no wait. Going to the Super bowl or Grammy's? You are whisked behind velvet ropes and escorted past any/all lines to the best seats in the house.

I Have Cancer. Now My Facebook Feed Is Full of ‘Alternative Care’ Ads.

When I saw the ads, I knew that Facebook had probably tagged me to receive them. Interestingly, I haven’t seen any legitimate cancer care ads in my newsfeed, just pseudoscience. This may be because pseudoscience companies rely on social media in a way that other forms of health care don’t. Pseudoscience companies leverage Facebook’s social and supportive environment to connect their products with identities and to build communities around their products. They use influencers and patient testimonials. Some companies also recruit members through Facebook “support groups” to sell their products in pyramid schemes.
Through all this social media, patients begin to feel a sense of belonging, which makes it harder for them to question a product. Cancer patients are especially vulnerable to this stealth marketing. It’s hard to accept the loss of control that comes with a cancer diagnosis. As cancer patients, we are told where to go, how to sit and what to take. It can be painful and scary and tiring — and then all our hair falls out. During the pandemic, many of us are also isolated. Our loved ones can’t come to our appointments or even visit us in the hospital. Now, more than ever, who is there to hold our hand?

11 July, 2020

Patient, 30, Dies After Attending 'COVID Party' in Texas, Told Nurse 'I Think I Made a Mistake'

A 30-year-old patient in San Antonio, Texas, has died from the coronavirus after attending a “COVID party” and initially thinking that the rapidly-spreading illness “a hoax.”
A “COVID party” is a gathering “held by somebody diagnosed by the COVID virus and the thought is to see if the virus is real and to see if anyone gets infected," Dr. Jane Appleby, the Chief Medical Officer of Methodist Healthcare, said in a recorded statement, according to NEWS4.
"Just before the patient died, they looked at their nurse and said, 'I think I made a mistake, I thought this was a hoax, but it's not,' " Appleby said.
Appleby said she was sharing the patient’s story in an attempt to make sure people know that the coronavirus can affect anyone.

10 July, 2020

The Cost of the Evangelical Betrayal

This pastor, a lifelong Republican who declined to be quoted by name because of the position he occupies, wrote that “for decades Hollywood has portrayed conservative Christians as cruel, ignorant, greedy, and hypocritical. For 20 years I have worked, led, and sacrificed to put the lie to that stereotype, and have done so successfully here … Because of how we have served the least of the least, city officials, school officials, and many atheists have formed a respect for Jesus and his church. And I’m watching all that get washed away.”
He added, “Yes, Hollywood and the media created a decidedly unattractive stereotype of Christians. And Donald Trump fits it perfectly. Made it all seem true. And sadly, I now realize that stereotype is more true than I ever knew. It breaks my heart. In volleyball terms, Hollywood did the set, but Trump was the spike that drove the ball home. He’s everything I’ve been trying to say isn’t what the church is all about. But sadly, maybe it is.”

This Is My Story - 1 - With LeVar Burton

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsGlBNDf64c

07 July, 2020

ending the charade

And so this open letter in Harper’s about free speech and debate. Please, think for a minute and consider: what does it say when a completely generic endorsement of free speech and open debate is in and of itself immediately diagnosed as anti-progressive, as anti-left? There is literally no specific instance discussed in that open letter, no real-world incident about which there might be specific and tangible controversy. So how can someone object to an endorsement of free speech and open debate without being opposed to those things in and of themselves? You can’t. And people are objecting to it because social justice politics are plainly opposed to free speech. That is the most obvious political fact imaginable today. Of course Yelling Woke Twitter hates free speech! Of course social justice liberals would prevent expression they disagree with if they could! How could any honest person observe our political discourse for any length of time and come to any other conclusion?

The Myth of the Kindly General Lee

There are former Confederates who sought to redeem themselves—one thinks of James Longstreet, wrongly blamed by Lost Causers for Lee’s disastrous defeat at Gettysburg, who went from fighting the Union army to leading New Orleans’s integrated police force in battle against white-supremacist paramilitaries. But there are no statues of Longstreet in New Orleans.* Lee was devoted to defending the principle of white supremacy; Longstreet was not. This, perhaps, is why Lee was placed atop the largest Confederate monument at Gettysburg in 1917, but the 6-foot-2-inch Longstreet had to wait until 1998 to receive a smaller-scale statue hidden in the woods that makes him look like a hobbit riding a donkey. It’s why Lee is remembered as a hero, and Longstreet is remembered as a disgrace.
The white supremacists who have protested on Lee’s behalf are not betraying his legacy. In fact, they have every reason to admire him. Lee, whose devotion to white supremacy outshone his loyalty to his country, is the embodiment of everything they stand for. Tribe and race over country is the core of white nationalism, and racists can embrace Lee in good conscience.
The question is why anyone else would.

06 July, 2020

Rapid Arctic meltdown in Siberia alarms scientists

Alexander Deyev can still taste the smoke from last year’s wildfires that blanketed the towns near his home in southeastern Siberia, and he is dreading their return.
“It just felt like you couldn’t breathe at all,” said Deyev, 32, who lives in Irkutsk, a Siberian region along Lake Baikal, just north of the Mongolian border.
But already this year, fires in the spring arrived earlier and with more ferocity, government officials have said. In the territory where Deyev lives, fires were three times as large this April as the year before. And the hot, dry summer lies ahead.
Much of the world remains consumed with the deadly novel coronavirus. The United States, crippled by the pandemic, is in the throes of a divisive presidential campaign and protests over racial inequality. But at the top of the globe, the Arctic is enduring its own summer of discontent.

The Surprisingly Controversial History Of Seat Belts

Seatbelts aroused heated debate despite increasing scientific research in the 1940s and 1950s affirming their value in saving lives. Among the arguments put forth against seatbelts was that they could cause internal injuries; that they prevented easy escapes from cars submerged in water; and that devices frequently failed. All were disputed by researchers but opposition remained fierce.

04 July, 2020

When Proof Is Not Enough

The conclusion: When confronted with something that does not fit the paradigm we know, we are likely to resist acknowledging the incongruity. This is because we see what we have been primed — through shared education and culture, and our own lived experiences — to see, so that new evidence that we encounter is immediately, as philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn would explain it more than a decade later, “fitted to one of the conceptual categories prepared by prior experience.” Kuhn applied this reasoning to explaining the tumultuous nature of scientific revolutions, where he argued that the conceptual categories that ordered scientific research were precisely those that made it so difficult for scientists to accept information that could challenge the frameworks they operated within. In such moments, logic and experiment alone were not enough to settle the matter. Kuhn noted, too, that the more time and effort a scientist had already invested in a research paradigm, the more resistance he or she was likely to exhibit toward accepting change. In other words, the higher the stakes, the greater the resistance.

Black in Palo Alto: Longtime residents describe painful toll of everyday racism

Another time, police called the Greens to suggest that their fifth-grade son had broken into the principal's office at 10:30 p.m. and stolen money when he was actually home in bed. The evidence was that his baseball glove — which a teacher had picked up on the playground and placed in the principal's office — had been found there.
Some years later their daughter, by then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking to visit her mother at a downtown Palo Alto newspaper office when she was blocked by a police car and questioned about a homicide she knew nothing about.
The repeated, upsetting incidents take a corrosive psychological toll, the longtime residents said. Children come to fear and expect that police are not going to help or support them.

Bag man: a podcast about Spiro Agnew

https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/episode-1-unsettling-secret-n925931
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/episode-2-crawling-n925946
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/transcript-episode-3-hang-there-baby-n931581
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/transcript-episode-4-turn-it-n935286
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/transcript-episode-5-double-header-n938161
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/transcript-episode-6-disappearing-act-n940311
https://www.nbcnews.com/msnbc/maddow-bag-man-podcast/transcript-episode-7-you-can-t-fire-me-i-quit-n943241

This 40-page statement of evidence that was thrown together all night over-night, it was rushed to DC with a sirens wailing police escort like it was the holy grail.
For these prosecutors, it kind of was.
Spiro Agnew was about to walk into court and plead to a felony count of tax evasion, and these prosecutors wanted the American people to know that he had not-only been caught for tax evasion.
BAKER: We knew what it had to do. It had to bury him, so that the country could see this wasn't a “witch hunt”-- to use a current expression-- that there was a very substantial, solid case against him.
LIEBMAN: It was a big issue for all of us, all of us. Because what we certainly couldn't allow to happen would be for the Vice President to plead Nolo to a tax count and then to walk out and say, “This is nothing. This is some little mistake I made. This is absolutely, these guys are liars. I made a little mistake on my tax returns. I've made amends. I'm going to pay back the money that I should have paid and I'm going back to work.”

02 July, 2020

‘The Cursed Platoon’

For the men of 1st platoon, part of the 82nd Airborne Division, the costs of the war and the fallout from the case have been profound and sometimes deadly.
Traumatized by battle, they have also been brutalized by the politicization of their service and made to feel as if the truth of what they lived in Afghanistan — already a violent and harrowing tour before Lorance assumed command — had been so demeaned that it no longer existed.
Since returning home in 2013, five of the platoon’s three dozen soldiers have died. At least four others have been hospitalized following suicide attempts or struggles with drugs or alcohol.

01 July, 2020

reddit comment on Seattle mayor orders "occupied" area cleared, police arrive

This is probably in part because of the incident where CHAZ/CHOP "security" killed two black teenagers on Monday. The 16-year-old died on the scene and the 14-year-old has since died in hospital. What happened was there was a drive-by shooting (the 5th CHAZ shooting) from a silver SUV, and then an hour and a half later CHAZ security opened fire on a white SUV. Here is a video with audio of the incident. Turns out they got the wrong guys, the two black teenagers were doing donuts in the park and generally taking the (possibly stolen?) vehicle on a joyride, but they weren't the shooters. Before the details came out CHOP supporters were bragging about how well they handled it.


30 June, 2020

Modeling the Human Trajectory

https://www.openphilanthropy.org/blog/modeling-human-trajectory
If global economic growth keeps accelerating, the future will differ from the present to a mind-boggling degree. The question is whether there might be some plausibility in such a prospect. That is what motivated my exploration of the mathematical patterns in the human past and how they could carry forward. Having now labored long on the task, I doubt I’ve gained much perspicacity. I did come to appreciate that any system whose rate of growth rises with its size is inherently unstable. The human future might be one of explosion, perhaps an economic upwelling that eclipses the industrial revolution as thoroughly as it eclipsed the agricultural revolution. Or the future could be one of implosion, in which environmental thresholds are crossed or the creative process that drives growth runs amok, as in an AI dystopia. More likely, these impulses will mix.

I now understand more fully a view that shapes the work of Open Philanthropy. The range of possible futures is wide. So it is our task as citizens and funders, at this moment of potential leverage, to lower the odds of bad paths and raise the odds of good ones.

29 June, 2020

China cuts Uighur births with IUDs, abortion, sterilization

https://apnews.com/269b3de1af34e17c1941a514f78d764c
The Chinese government is taking draconian measures to slash birth rates among Uighurs and other minorities as part of a sweeping campaign to curb its Muslim population, even as it encourages some of the country’s Han majority to have more children.

While individual women have spoken out before about forced birth control, the practice is far more widespread and systematic than previously known, according to an AP investigation based on government statistics, state documents and interviews with 30 ex-detainees, family members and a former detention camp instructor. The campaign over the past four years in the far west region of Xinjiang is leading to what some experts are calling a form of “demographic genocide.”

28 June, 2020

More cats reacting to cat face filter

https://www.reddit.com/r/aww/comments/e7yru7/more_cats_reacting_to_cat_face_filter/

The eye of the storm - Marie Le Conte on the bruising experience of inadvertently becoming the target of a Twitter feeding frenzy

https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/july-august-2020/the-eye-of-the-storm/
It’s hard to describe what it feels like, being the main character on Twitter. People tweet at you, at first to criticise what you said, then insulting you for what you said, then trying to find other things you said to criticise and insult you for, then moving on to discussing your appearance, what you may be like in bed, and anything else they can think of. They also tweet about you, which is more disconcerting if you aren’t a celebrity, which I am not. They are no longer talking to you but about you to each other; it’s a book club and you’re the book.
At least a book is self-contained; when you become the main character, people take the dots that they have, link them up, then add some new ones where they think they should be and at the end of it there is a person they can attack, but only a small part of that person is you. It was decided I was a frustrated and uptight straight woman; I am bisexual. It was decreed that I was a racist white woman; I am mixed-race.
A few days later, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her boyfriend cut his hair and trim his beard, and posted a video on Instagram where someone out of shot called him a bin raccoon and he laughed. I had found the joke funny; the subjects of my joke had found the joke funny; it’s just a shame that the thousands of people standing between us disagreed.

27 June, 2020

India Is No Longer India

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/05/exile-in-the-age-of-modi/609073/

By the time I was an adult, the urban elites and the “heart of the nation” had lost the means to communicate. The elites lived in a state of gated comfort, oblivious to the hard realities of Indian life—poverty and unemployment, of course, but also urban ruin and environmental degradation. The schools their children went to set them at a great remove from India, on the levels of language, religion, and culture. Every feature of their life was designed, to quote Robert Byron on the English in India, to blunt their “natural interest in the country and sympathy with its people.” Their life was, culturally speaking, an adjunct to Western Europe and America; their values were a hybrid, in which India was served nominally while the West was reduced to a source of permissiveness and materialism. They thought they lived in a world where the “idea of India” reigned supreme—but all the while, the constituency for this idea was being steadily eroded. It was Bharat that was ascendant. India’s leaders today speak with contempt of the principles on which this young nation was founded. They look back instead to the timeless glories of the Hindu past. They scorn the “Khan Market gang”—a reference to a fashionable market near where I grew up that has become a metonym for the Indian elite. Hindu nationalists trace a direct line between the foreign occupiers who destroyed the Hindu past—first Muslims, then the British—and India’s Westernized elite (and India’s Muslims), whom they see as heirs to foreign occupation, still enjoying the privileges of plunder.

The more you have, the more you want? Higher social class predicts a greater desire for wealth and status

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ejsp.2620
Traditional theories have focused on the intentions of lower‐class individuals to climb on the social ladder, yet they have paid relatively little attention to the motivations of upper‐class individuals to ascend even higher. Addressing this issue, Studies 1 and 2 provided cross‐national evidence that higher social class is associated with a greater desire for wealth and status. Moreover, by manipulating perceived social class, Studies 3 and 5 experimentally confirmed that compared to people in the lower‐class group, those in the upper‐class group express a stronger desire for wealth and status. Furthermore, in line with self‐categorization theory predictions, Studies 3–5 showed that upper‐class individuals tend to see and use wealth and status as important attributes in defining and categorizing self, and this tendency explains the effect of social class on desire for wealth and status. Together, our findings demonstrate a “having more—wanting more” relationship, and its consequences are further discussed.

25 June, 2020

NASCAR Completes Noose Investigation; Can't Determine How It Got Into Driver's Garage

https://www.npr.org/sections/live-updates-protests-for-racial-justice/2020/06/25/883432500/nascar-completes-noose-investigation-cant-determine-how-it-got-into-driver-s-gar



NASCAR has finished its investigation and says it still doesn't know who tied a noose that was discovered this past weekend in the garage stall used by African American stock car driver Bubba Wallace at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

NASCAR also released a photo taken on Sunday by its security personnel of what it says was the garage pull rope tied into a noose at a Talladega race in October of 2019, and not reported until last weekend.

In a Thursday conference call with reporters, NASCAR President Steve Phelps said investigators conducted a thorough sweep of all garage areas across the tracks where NASCAR races. That's 29 tracks and 1,684 garage stalls. 44 of them are at Talladega. Phelps said they found only 11 stalls using a pull down rope tied in a knot. And only one was tied into a noose – the one discovered in Wallace's garage.

North Texas family shaken after 18 relatives test positive for COVID-19 following surprise birthday party

CARROLLTON, Texas — As North Texas watches COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge, one family is shouldering a health crisis that they never expected to face. 
That crisis, all began on May 30 when just a single relative, unknowingly infected with COVID-19, interacted with seven family members at a surprise birthday party.