American Right-Wing Battle Flag

I wrote this today in reply to a "Put a flag in your front yard" post. My sweet, wise daughter said I was being too aggressive in a direct reply to an actual human being who would probably take it personally. Still, it's something I feel a need to say:

I hung flags for July 4 even during the reprehensible Reagan administration because I considered him to be an aberration that did not reflect the basic character of this country.

But since then, almost fifty percent of the people voted for a guy who "grabbed them by the pussy" and said that people from Mexico were "rapists and murderers". He ridiculed and mocked a reporter with a handicap.

Reagan was not an aberration. He was the beginning of a hideous corruption of America. From him to Newt Gingrich to George W. and now to Trump, the American people, the real America I used to revere has become substantially evil.

Our parents went to war to protect our country from being conquered by people like them, Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo. They did not do it for the flag. They did it *under* it and *for* a decent country.

The flag is a piece of cloth that represents a political theory. A symbol that has been hijacked by racists, xenophobes and people who call the free press an enemy of the people. By people who criticize me because I won't join those who wave the flag in support of vile ideology.

When all that stops I will reconsider but I am pretty sure almost fifty percent will vote in November for the guy who put children in cages, sent troops against people in American cities and teargassed a crowd so he could wave a bible in front of church.
Flag of the United States of America, bah. If we are talking about the country that just blew off treaties, abandoned the Kurds and built a wall, no way I want anything to do with it. It is a symbol of evil.

I hope that our forbears would look at the current commander in chief and say, No way I will take orders from that scumbag. I'm not pointing a gun at someone to defend putting children in cages.

Infection Rates in Red States are Out Of Control – PlagueData.com

So, the fine people at http://PlagueData.com have made controls that let you filter the states in myriad ways. For awhile you've been able to identify the states trending bad or good. Now you can select states based on their politics.
This image shows graphs from states that voted for Trump, have a Republican governor and Republican or Democratic majorities in both houses of their legislature. There are 21 of red. It also has a graph with the 16 Democratic states.

As you can see looking at the data (this one is *not* trend; it is the current actual positive test percent), the red states are screwed. Not only is their trend across the graph *not* in the right direction, a whole bunch of them are over 10% infected. For the blue states, *none* of them are currently over 10%.

While the testing certainly oversamples sick people, it is a very strong indication of what to expect, ie, Red states are screwed.

The good news? A strong die-off in those states will reduce their influence in the future. The bad news? The virus doesn't respect borders so it means decent people will die, too.








Peter Navarro Demonstrates that Anthony Fauci is Actually Awesome

There is an aphorism, the exception that proves the rule. As I first read this truly silly essay, I thought, "Really? Over a forty some year career, this is all you can come up with? You have just made clear that the guy is a fucking saint."

Then I clicked through to the 'evidence' in his links. One was when, in February before we had any cases her, he said the risk of catching it "now"was low. Another, posed as Fauci saying that lower death rates do not matter was actually him saying that saying that the lower morality rate was "false comfort" considering its infectiousness and other such badness.

The rest are equally dishonest. This Peter Navarro guy clearly belongs in the Trump administration.

And this essay is 1) proof that even mortal enemies couldn't find evidence that Fauci is anything short of awesome and 2) the Trump administration and its blatant dishonesty represent a clear and present danger to our country and to our individual lives.

Article HERE.

Thoughts on Opening Schools in a Covid19 World

Schools. Tough problem. I agree that kids are harmed by this isolation. I know that the economy is going to be ruined by the lack of child care. That makes getting kids into school a very high priority.

The big challenge is that sending them to school amounts to each household sending one or more representatives to a virus communication center each day.

However, children *appear* to have less ability to host the virus. It appears that this characteristic is inverse with age. That is, small children are pretty safe, both for them and the parents that receive them at the end of the day. Seniors in high school are nearly adults and not very safe at all.

Unfortunately, the practicalities of school are the opposite of what would be needed to accommodate this change in risk. The people who are kept with a single, unchanging group that would prevent cross contamination are the small children with less risk. Older kids change classroom groups several times a day in a pattern that insures that any infected kid can contamination as many people as possible.

I keep trying to imagine what could be done to make this work. There problems are intractable.

The ability to make children wear masks decreases with age. Teenagers simply will not do it effectively.

That means that social distancing is required. Schools are not constructed to support that and students will not cooperate.

Schools need to reorganize so that kids are taught in class groups that never change. For older kids, that means that teachers need to travel from room to room. Teachers, of course, will have wear good, medical masks so that they are neither exposed nor transmitting.

When in classrooms, mask wearing has to be enforced rigorously. A student who won't wear a mask has to be expelled. No mercy.

Since students would not be changing classrooms, behavior in hallways is less of a problem and the fact that students will not wear masks when not under strict control is reduced. Students should not be allowed to linger around the school when not in class.

Extracurricular activities can only occur within class groups. Anything that requires students to mix between groups has to go.

Every classroom should have a no contact thermometer and a raised temperature means class is off. Everyone goes home until 1) that kid is tested negative for covid19 or, 2) two weeks. At the end of that period, only students with normal temperatures would be allowed in. Anyone with a fever stays home unless they are tested negative for covid19.

Whereever possible, ventilation systems should be improved to maximize air exchange in classrooms. Obviously, cleaning should be maximized.

Rooms should be reconfigured to distance children as much as practical.

Rich districts should build teacher isolation mechanisms, clear glass booths or something, to isolate teachers from students both to protect the teachers and to prevent them from carrying virus from class to class.




Here is a list of questions I read somewhere about school openings that motivated my thinking...

• If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?

• If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?

• Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids' families need to get tested? Who pays for that?

• What if a teacher who lives in the same house as as someone who tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?

• Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?

• Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?

• What if a student in your kid's class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Do we all get notified who is infected and when?
Or because of HIPAA regulations are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious “may have been in contact” emails all year long?

• What is this stress going to do to our teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they are able to provide? What is it going to do to our kids? What are the long-term effects of consistently being stressed out?

30% of the teachers in the US are over 50. About 16% of the total deaths in the US are people between the ages of 45-65.
We are choosing to put our teachers in danger.





Another Annoying Study Telling Us Not To Drink

So the statistics people come back with another stab at telling us not to drink alcohol. What a fucking bore. I wish they would just keep their moralizing bullshit to themselves.

It's always been obvious to me that alcohol is a poison (eg, I use it to kill covid19 virus all the time) that makes you sick (eg, 'hangover' is a euphemism for 'poisoned but will recover'). It's equally obvious that overdosing will kill you in myriad ways ranging from alcoholism to liver disease to various kinds of cancer.

By the way, pretty much everything else is poisonous on some level, too. Food is killing most (yeh, most) Americans more certainly and with greater life consequences than alcohol. At this moment obesity makes any consequence of alcohol you can name look like a good day.

There are two reasons I want them to shut the hell up. First is, Everyone already knows that drinking too much is bad for you, Captain Obvious. We know already. Stop harping. Not a single person on earth did or did not drink more or less because ten years ago they nuanced that X ounces a day is good/bad for you. No matter what they say, it doesn't kill you very fast and that's what matters.

Second, Drinking doesn't have anything to do with health because people do not care about health. They care about happiness. And these studies never give any credence to the fact that people hate being sober all the time.

Hate hate hate hate hate being sober all the time. Hate hate hate.

As well they should. Sobriety is a horrible state of being when done too often. You can tell me about that person you know who is cheerful and fulfilled without a drop or a toke. I will tell you that, when I met that person last time, I thought, Gad, what a drag. Seemed a bit dry and joyless.

Sure, people exist whose lives are awesome when sober all the time but they are a minuscule fraction, the order of magnitude of the population of monks and nuns, or world class chess players or other groups with esoteric characteristics.

Animals seek to avoid sobriety by eating fermented fruit and they don't even have to go to work or talk to their stupid boss or listen to Donald Trump (or Joe Biden for that matter). With actual intelligence comes a thousand additional reasons to set rationality and inhibition aside for a few hours.

I would love to see the study on the nasty effects of sobriety. Of the joyless engagement in a world of parties without drink. Of lives lived without the fumbling relaxation where the cares and interests of the day seem remote. Where you can't sit back and listen to your incredibly annoying relative or friend, sip on your drink and allow your disinhibited mind to fantasize about murder or abandonment or to feel, I just don't care very much because I love this gin.

And don't even get me started on the idea of all sexual encounters being sober. I shudder to imagine how much less sex people would have and how dry and awful it would be, and thereby how the actual enjoyment of the human condition would be nearly entirely eliminated.

I will reaffirm, as those who know me have heard many times before, humans naturally want to stop being sober. It is as natural and essential as sex, a good bowel movement or loving your grandchildren. I love to drink (and smoke and, if only I could access some, perhaps a little sneef now and again) and will do it on my deathbed, even if it reduces my time there.

Drinking is good and essential to the joy of life.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/well/eat/should-we-be-drinking-less.html

The Jefferson Memorial, Racism and Application of Today's Understanding to the Past

I am pretty radical in my antagonism toward racists and our racist past. I share some of Frederick Douglass's famous sadness over the Fourth of July holiday. I consider it legitimate to consider America to be the tragic consequence of brutality and genocide. America is a country based on the arrogant, imperial view of the British who never found a native society they didn't want to destroy. I am in favor of reparations, not a symbolic gesture but real, race aware changes in policy that attempt redress.

I am not in favor of tearing down the Jefferson Memorial. I agree that his participation in slavery is shameful. I also know that he is one of the people that created some of the most beautiful parts of America.

At some point we anti-racists need to figure out how to balance between our desire to honor the repudiation of racism against the fact that everything in the past is tainted with it.

For me that balance begins with evaluating the intent of the person being honored. Jefferson Davis was a warrior fighting to save slavery. Thomas Jefferson was a slave holder who invented much of the modern idea of freedom.

The Jefferson Memorial doesn't seem to me to glorify slavery. I'm not sure it really is about Jefferson. It has always seemed to me to treat him as the symbol of enlightened political ideals of freedom and equality.

More importantly though is that the balancing needs to account for, at the end of the day, pride on the achievements of civilization, too. I would be surprised if you could find a single white person of any accomplishment before 1800 who did not hold opinions about women and 'other' people that were reprehensible by modern standards. Who weren't perfectly fine with penal systems that were often worse than concentration camps.

So, Isaac Newton was one of the greatest minds in history. He was also an investor in the slave trade. Do we ban regard for his immense contributions to science and culture because of that? If so, how do we frame our history?

To whom to we attribute the basic realizations about gravity if he is no longer to be admired. Are we really going to insist that, as some have said about the Jefferson Memorial, that we say, "Newton, a man who bought shares in a morally repugnant slaving enterprise, saw an apple fall from a tree and..."?

We are all flawed. It's my view that people's flaws should be overlooked when reasonable. Nothing I know about Thomas Jefferson's life suggests that he committed slavery crimes outside the boundaries of his time nor that any of his main life motivation was to promote enslavement.

As I understand him, he was determined to create a society where people could be free. If his understanding of the word 'people' was different than now, at least his ideas supported changing that definition over time. Without him, the New World would not be as decent a place as it is. Even if it might have been better if he had been better, too.

I say judge memorials an the destruction by the intent of the memorial. I do not believe there is anything about the Jefferson Memorial that glorifies racism. I believe it intends to glorify freedom and equality. If Jefferson himself provides an object lesson in how much farther we have to go, so be it.

[This was discussed at length on my public facebook page HERE. The original article which this responds to is HERE.]



Urgent! Today! Do 'Social Distancing' Save Lives! Save our Culture.

Right now the only thing we know about the people who can spread the virus that causes COVID19 is that there are lots of them and that they are not showing symptoms. We do not and can not know who we can interact with without risk of becoming infected. While the disease may or may not be bad, the really, really bad thing is that you will not know you are sick for ten or twelve days. During that time, you will be infecting the people with whom you interact and they will infect others.

The only way to avoid infection is to avoid associating with others who are infected.

‘Social distancing’ is the practice of absolutely minimizing your interaction with everyone and doing highly disciplined things to avoid interacting with infected people. Presently that means everyone because there is no way to tell who is will not infect you. and, importantly, you don’t have any idea if are infecting your friends and family. You definitely might be sick but not showing symptoms.

How can you tell when you will not infect others? Do ‘social distancing’ for two weeks. If you haven’t shown symptoms by then, you are not sick. That is, you know if you haven’t gotten infected during those two weeks. But, if you practice careful social distancing, you will not have been in a position to become infected and then you can be confident that you did not get infected during that two weeks and are not infected at the moment.

If you have a friend who has been doing the same thing, ie, not going to bars or crowded places, keeping a six foot permitter at the grocery store and work, washing hands like it’s a job, and otherwise doing everything they can to avoid exposure, then at the end of two weeks, you will also know that they are not infected. That’s good news because it means that they can become part of your ‘social distance’ club and you can hang with them.

What ‘social distancing’ does is provide a signal, a way to know who is safe and who is sick. If you have a couple of friends that you trust to me smart enough and reliable enough to execute ‘social distancing’, then you can socialize more normally. That means you can live life more normally while still keeping some discipline to avoid getting sick. 

It also means that we are starting to organize the spread of the disease. If we don't do it now, we may not be able to do it ever without draconian policies that require real sacrifice (and for Americans, that means never). In a couple of weeks of not doing 'social distancing', infected people will be everywhere. 

To avoid them will require literally staying in your house like they had to do in China. That wasn't some totalitarian ploy. It took the new cases rate from 4000 a day to essential zero. That would be horrilbe but we might not need to if we start doing 'social distancing' today, this minute.

Equally importantly, you will not have added to the overall societal burden of sick people. That means you will have helped ‘flatten the curve’, that curve of doom where we have a huge spike of sickness that overwhelms hospitals and medical personnel and, as a consequence, will vastly increase the number of people who die. It also means that your grandmother or father or some other at-risk person is less likely to run into someone who is infected.

Below is a link that explains how to accomplish ‘social distancing’. It basically comes down to, for the next couple of weeks, STAY HOME, DON’T INVITE FRIENDS OVER, KEEP A SIX FOOT PERIMETER WHEN YOU GO OUT AND ONLY GO TO THE STORE WHEN YOU MUST. WASH YOUR HANDS, EVEN AT HOME. 

For the next two weeks:






But read the whole article. It's good. It is your duty to your family, friends and our entire society. This could turn into an actual dystopia event. Be responsible. Distance yourself and your family. Save lives.



Worried About Emotions in the White House: Vote for a Woman and Be Safe

So, I was starting a wisecrack about how it is I can't possibly vote to put a man in the White House because he hasn't had a lifetime of controlling his emotions for a few days each month to make him be better able to behave correctly when he is in a bad mood.

It was intended to be a glib reversal of the usual jibe against a woman controlling the nuclear button during her menses.

As I said it though, I thought, Holy Crap!! That's actually a legitimate point.

My female friends often talk about the discipline it takes to manage the heightened emotions sometimes felt during that time of the month. Being in well practiced in the art of recognizing one's emotional state and insuring that its contributions to your life performance are positive is actually a huge virtue.

And it's a good thing that many men lack and it shows in many of the things that men are criticized for.

Cogito ergo superbus. I think therefore I am arrogant.


The problem with these folks is that they think consciousness is something special. Pure anthropocentrism. We have it so it must be important. 

Cogito ergo superbus. I think therefore I am arrogant.

Consciousness is an optimization for an otherwise blind consequence of the entropy. All resources must be consumed for the universe to get to its eventual state of cold, gray nothingness (and then a dark energy big bang so it starts over again).

All over the universe, oxidation is a way to consume the energy of a system with a particular chemistry. On Earth, we do that with iron in our blood. Organic metabolism is the local innovation to make sure that our neck of the universe does its part for entropy. Consciousness evolved to supercharge the effort.

I'm sorry to offend all the 'in god's image' people but we are merely bags of chemicals that coagulate into lumps for the purpose of creating more bags of chemicals to more thoroughly reduce all that we touch into cold, gray nothingness. 

Our consciousness has no more importance than our ability to shit on everything beautiful. Both are pointless consequences of our mission to consume all resources. One increases consumption. The other wrecks what it touches. I'll leave it to you to decide which is which.

Me? I've always been impressed by fusion. Everywhere you put enough matter, it organizes itself into an energetic system that makes human efforts to at wasting energy seem trivial.


Enjoy...

https://qz.com/1184574/the-idea-that-everything-from-spoons-to-stones-are-conscious-is-gaining-academic-credibility/?fbclid=IwAR3OIwJXLMZsPk6LZTtbkSzYINrYfOEerAextFmk872haX_88rwabGFfEB4 


Article of Impeachment Must be Passed by House Democrats

I have changed my mind. I believe that the D's have a duty to impeach. A committee should have a hearing where they stipulate the Mueller report and pass articles of impeachment on Obstruction of Justice. One day. In and out. Another day for a party line vote. Back to business.


If they don't, we have established the idea that clear obstruction in the White House is acceptable. As a precedent, this would be awful and would encourage a future of criminal behavior.

I emphatically do not think that the D's should engage a new investigation. I do not think they should have days of hearings. I do not think this should be allowed to dominate their work as legislators. Mueller has done the work.

There should be one day of committee where they stipulate their agreement with the facts Mueller uncovered. One day of debate where the R's can rant in opposition. A party line vote and done. Then a return to doing work, passing bills that would benefit the people.

We send soldiers to their deaths to fight for freedom. The House D's need to do their duty to protect our future. The evidence in the Mueller report is so compelling that ignoring it would be dereliction.

Trump must be impeached. Decent people cannot tolerate this behavior in the halls of power. The D's are largely decent people. The R's, not so much. The decent people need to do their duty.