I hereby renounce my complaints about homophobic bakers

So, a small analogy.

For years, when I had to show my ID to buy pseudoephedrine to the pharmacist, I was pissed. I made a point of always explaining that I thought having to identify myself because of someone else's criminality was bullshit.

One day, I was talking about gun registration and had an epiphany. I realized that this was exactly analogous to registering to buy pseudoephedrine. Guns are dangerous and we need to know who buys them. There is no way to know who is innocent so we register everyone... in both cases.

I stopped complaining.

I think today has to be another of those moments. We are happy enough to let the tech companies say, "You are doing something that we consider powerfully against the common good and we will not help you do it."

That is exactly what homophobic bakers say.

On Making it Impossible for Parler to Exist

I want these people expunged, too. However, there is huge danger in establishing more buttons and switches that authorities can press to 'make us safer'. The people who passed the USA PATRIOT act created a bunch of them. One led directly, specifically to children in cages and the horror of the treatment of immigrants in this country.

I don't yet have an opinion about the specifics but I worry very, very much that instrumenting the US government with the ability to control the domain name system a terrible thing to do. It's great when Biden stops parler.com. A lot less great when President Josh Hawley does it for plannedParenthood.com. Perhaps horrific when the domains that Apple uses for iMessages are shut off. Or the ones used for signaling by ATT and Verizon.

When people complained to me about Apple refusing to hack iPhones for the police, I have always said that the police managed to investigate crimes without that throughout history. They can still do it. Same with these anarchist groups.

I am fine with the actions being taken right now to deplatform violent speech. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and the rest are not required to do business with vile people. I am very, very reluctant to have the government control it.

Also, I do not actually think it is wise.

The reason we can shut Parler off and remove command and control (Trump's Twitter) is because they did not feel threatened and did their nasty work with obvious tools. If we make it too difficult for them to exist, they will adapt. Denying them access to tools does not cause them to cease to exist. I will cause them to get smarter and harder to detect and manage.

The fundamental mechanism of evolution is existential threat. If we provide that, they will evolve. I think it's a mistake to imagine that silencing them will work in our interest.

Christmas is a Fake Religion

I been seeing this bit of Christmas revisionism around a lot lately. While I am happy enough for anyone to make up whatever fantasies they need to support their self-image and happiness, my self-image and happiness requires that I take note of the fact that these ideas have no historical merit. They are modern creations.

Christmas trees came to us as first from Yule celebrations as 'yew branches' in the 1700's which then graduated to entire trees, often pine. Though common in England, the fad for trees came to America when magazines started existing and loved to have articles about the spruce trees Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert brought from Northern Europe where Yule celebrations were common. Applying a symbolic death and resurrection to the trees is a completely modern innovation.

Candy canes are shaped that way because the ropes of candy are hung over rods like pasta and harden into a U shape. They are broken into two pieces. One has a bend at top. The other is straight. There might have been some candy company that was thinking religious blood thoughts when they made the red stripes but the white color is the color of the cooked sugar mixed with air. 

Yule, like the Saturnalia was celebrated at the solstice and both were big parties with. Saturnalia was Roman so it didn't have pine trees but they did have wreaths which were probably there because they wanted greenery in the winter season, and like Yule, they also had gifts.

Around the fourth century, the western (Roman) Christian churches moved Jesus' birth myth from the spring (the time of year when the sheep and shepherds mentioned in the story would have been around) to coincide with Saturnalia, probably to coopt it into Christianity.

Interestingly, Christmas was not considered a big deal of a holiday until the 1800's. In fact, it was outlawed as an immoral and dangerous party by British Puritans in the 1600's. It came into it's own, I have read, when the industrial revolution encouraged three innovations.

The first was the magazines mentioned above. Articles about the royal court were very popular among the reading classes in America. So was British royalty. By around 1804, Christmas was fashionable again because Queen Victoria liked it.

The next was that childhood became a thing. Before factories, children were worked in the family business/farm like everyone else. With the industrial era, work required expertise. It also created some prosperity. Children were neither able nor expected to work when little (among the elites, blah blah blah). Consequently, they became entertainment for parents and the notion of 'our precious child' came into fashion.

The last was the production of consumer goods. It was around that time that factories started producing meaningful amounts of stuff that were not tools but could provide amusement around the house. This included toys and other things for children.

These three, the fascination over Queen Victoria's tree centered Christmas celebration, the solstice gifting that accompanied Yule and Saturnalia (even though they had no Magi), and the desire to make children happy combined to produce a uniquely American celebration, ie, a capitalist orgy of buying, giving and consuming. The religious significance was always a distant consideration, if not a mere marketing excuse.

RE: 14th Amendment and Not Seating Texas Litigation Supporters

I believe that there is a case to be made for not seating the bastards. Hell, I believe there is a case to be made for killing them. For me the question isn’t what we can do but what can we do to do some good.

My analysis of the current situation includes the idea that Trump has gotten us all hysterical. The constant antagonism and affront have put both sides, his supporters and us, in a fight or flight mode that is making everyone crazy. There are a lot of people, mostly on his side, that are otherwise reasonable humans who are doing shit that they would never consider at any other time in their lives.

I think that Joe Biden is right. The most important thing right now is to lower the temperature. Sure, we have the right to keep going in the bar fight and we are winning but, if nobody stops throwing punches, it can never stop. I think that it is best right now for our side to take the peaceful option whenever it is possible.

I am under no illusion that this solves anything in a long term way. The haters are still going to hate and those who will be subversive in pursuit of their own power will continue to do be evil. The problems will continue and will have bad consequences. However, we are in a moment when nobody can think anymore and those who are not fully bad people are still in the bar, swinging their fists because they are being told that we are swinging at them.

I do not thing we should, now that we have won the election, start actually swinging. I think that an effort to try to deny representation to people in those districts, even if justifiable, would represent actual swinging. It would encourage continued hysteria on both sides. This is the reason that I also hope Biden’s justice department decides to leave Trump alone. (States are different actors prosecuting for actual crimes that he mostly did outside of being president. I support their continuing efforts.)

I do support denying the people who supported the Texas litigation seats on committees. I believe that is a proportional consequence. It does not deny the people who voted for them representation in Congress.

None of the problems are going away because of this but it does allow a moment of relative quiet during which those who are not as evil can recover their senses. It also allows our side to pause and focus.

It is Right to Close Restaurants and Open Malls

There are three main reasons for the different treatment of malls and restaurants, the physical nature of the spaces, the behavior of the people and the activities engaged.

Malls are huge. They have a lot of air and big, active ventilation systems. Virus particles are diluted by all the air in the space and do not accumulate because the ventilation is so good. Because malls are always large corporations, they have better maintenance and equipment.

Restaurants are not huge. They often have lame ventilation systems and, because many of them are tiny corporations, they are often not well maintained. Particles have been well proven to accumulate.

People visit malls for relatively short periods of time and they are moving the whole time. This means that, even if there are a lot of particles in some spot, the fact that you are only there for a minute means you don't have time to breath in very many.

People sit in restaurants for hours, in one spot. If there are any particles nearby, you are there long enough to make sure to breath them all.

People barely talk in malls and, in decent places, they are masked when they do. Talking (singing, shouting, and otherwise using your breath) significantly increases the amount of particles emitted.

The only thing to do in a restaurant is talk except when eating. The fact that you have to take off your mask to eat makes the fact that you are doing a maximum particle activity even worse.

Which is to say, it *does* make sense to close restaurants and open malls.

Three Faces of Don

Donald Trump is mentally ill. Like, Three Faces of Eve mentally ill. Instead of being forced to kiss his aunt's corpse, he had the brutal insanity of Fred Trump running a house where no kindness was allowed, no kindness ever shown, no one cared about the children at all except to encourage personality destruction at any sign of weakness.

Donald Trump is really living in an alternate reality, like one of Eve's alternate personalities. He not only cannot but does not believe that losing exists for him. Just as Eve's personalities were able to refer to each other as if they were real, for Trump, reality does not include him losing.

To have that as part of his world is to court the end of his ego, not in the grandiose sense, in the sense of his ability to see or know himself. His underlying psychological state is that he would cease to exist as a person if he ever lost. He exists, therefore he wins.

It is sick but it is more tragic than anything else.

The Religious Freedom Death Wish Society


The term essential involves a calculation of risk and benefit. Campgrounds are housing for some category of people, their owners will go broke without customers and as outdoor facilities, the are very, very low risk.

Risk in this case derives from some combination of proximity, time and expected behavior.

People pass through liquor stores and banks for minutes at a time. Same with most businesses characterized as non-essential. That lowers the risk a great deal. From that perspective, you cannot distinguish them from grocery stores.

While I think it's ridiculous, my insurance company considers acupuncture a sufficiently important health service that they pay for it. That puts them on the positive side for benefits. Though the experience takes time, as a medical business, mask compliance is expected to be high. Lower risk.

Churches are like bars. People go there, stay a long time and engage in risky behaviors. Any mask that is not professionally fitted is going to allow plenty of virus laden particles out of each person when they are speaking in tongues, singing or whatever other stuff they do.

Close proximity means that someone else can readily (again, unless the mask is professionally fitted it's a risk reduction) not elimination) that someone stands a decent chance of inhaling it.

Further, liquor cannot be made at home. Nor can food or bicycle parts. God, otoh, can be worshipped anywhere. Your imam can council you with zoom. The calculation of essential includes, or should include, whether or not the good or service can be made available otherwise.

Also, the economic harm to the proprietor. Synogogues might have a claim of harm over high holiday ticket sales (an appalling practice) but I've not heard of many others selling tickets for services.

I think that Sunstein is right. This is not an important advance of conservatism. It is much less awful than decisions for Hobby Lobby, Little Sisters of Intolerance, etc.

However, it does signal two awful things. First, it shows zero deference to local authorities in dealing with a life threatening pandemic. (If this was in the future and the test positivity rate was not skyrocketing around the country, a different balance would occur even to me.)

It was implemented as a preliminary injunction exempting religious types from public safety rules. This is usually done based on some idea of irreversible harm. They have just said, "Sure you say you're so-called scientists say this is important to avoid death but death is only bad if you can't go to church." Fuck off, atheists, live in their pandemic.

Second, the establishment clause has become like the second amendment, a death wish for democracy. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has to be repealed for democracy to function. Gun control has to be possible. We have to find ways to stop these lunatic interpretations of the constitution.

None of this will happen because the Supreme Court, while not signaling a new conservative extremism today, has signaled that human lives do not matter compared to observing the faith. They have made clear that practicality plays no role in their justice. It's easy to imagine that the machine gun prohibition that was perfectly legal in the nineties will be overruled if it happens today. I have no doubt that it is now legal to shout Fire! in a theater.

They have signaled that they think it just and fair that all of us die for principle, even insane ones, as long as you can tie it back to something they love. Freedom of religion never seems to include my freedom to worships zero-religion unimpaired.

i'll add finally that they also chose to prohibit this as a preliminary injunction done without a fact record. Had they asked, Cuomo's experts could doubtless have explained real facts instead of my ignorant and imaginary rationales. The emergency isn't dying sick people. The emergency is that people can't go sing religious songs at each other. It ridiculous.

The real emergency is right-wing religious nuts taking over our country.

False Equivalence

Donald Trump made clear for every moment of his campaign that he hates Democrats. That he has no political philosophy beyond domination. His campaign rhetoric was vicious in a way not heard in our lives.

Donald Trump made clear, well before he took office, that he had no thought of being a 'president for all Americans'. He disparaged liberals, made fun of us and openly embraced the 'snowflake' and 'liberal tears' memes. He promised to jail our candidate.
And, he lost the popular vote.

The "he's not my president" meme of that era was well deserved and completely, extremely, diametrically different from the views of the Trumpsters.

Then, we were reacting to abuse, actual and predicted. To cheating in the campaign that was obvious to most of us and proven later to be correct. Trump made clear his intent to never allow a single compromise that would benefit my side.

Joe's rhetoric was, by historical standards before Trump, anodyne and respectful. He rejected the very idea of cheating. He has been clear every single moment of this campaign that he hopes to find a way to work with those who oppose him.

And he won the election, both popular and electoral college, decisively and fairly.

The disprespect and skepticism shown to Joe Biden and his election victory are based on pure fabrication, undeserved without an ounce of truth. It is a cynical invention to inspire hatred about a person who has been clear that he has benign intentions toward the opposition.

Comparing it to the chagrin we expressed about Trump's viciousness, the dishonesty of his campaign and his attitude about us liberals, is, well, it is truly awful.

The people who are 'rejecting' the legitimacy of Joe Biden's election, who are taking a 'not my president' attitude about him, are un-American. It is a vile, anti-democratic viewpoint.

It's different when *they* say "Not my president"

The righties are trying to compare our rejection of Donald Trump with their intention to reject Joe Biden. As with most things, the comparison they make ignore reality.

Donald Trump made clear from his inauguration speech that his vision of America is one where his supporters get their way and everyone that disagrees deserves nothing other than contempt. He never allowed a provision in a bill that favored by the opposition. He laughed at the idea of compromise or collaboration. He encouraged shitheads like you to treat those who disagree with contempt.

Joe Biden has made clear that he is very concerned about the interests of those who disagree with him. He has spoken to their fears and invited them to the table. We will see how that plays out.

From the first, Trump made clear that he was going to do nothing to make me like him. He loved the "liberal tears" meme. From the first, Joe has eschewed the idea that political opponents are enemies.

Joe intends to be their president, too. He wants to try to do things that make it possible for opponents to feel welcomed and to satisfy their needs where he can find a way to do so in compromise.

Me? I think that's naive, I think Trumpsters mostly *are* enemies who will eventually try to kill us. Still, it is the diametric opposite of Trump's attitude toward me.

When I said Trump is not my president, I wasn't only expressing my view, I was observing his.

There is No Comparison Between Trump and Biden, Literally

In just a few days, the right is coalescing on the idea embodied by repeating our assertion that Trump was "not my president". Commentators on the right compare our outrage at Trump's ascension to theirs about Joe as justification for their upcoming disparagement.

It is not right. There are facts. Calling mexicans rapists, ridiculing handicapped people, disrespecting war heroes, etc, are not in the same category of disagreement as "I don't like socialism."

They try to pose it as us being unable to accept disagreement. It is not. It is not disagreement to fight a person who is raping a woman on the street. Attacking that person to stop the rape is not an endorsement of violence. It is a necessity under extremis.

I can disagree with a right winger who thinks that women should have fewer rights and accommodations. I am not 'disagreeing' when I see a man raping a woman on the street and try to stop it.

Comparing their disagreement with Joe's liberalism with Donald Trump's lies, racist acts, calls for violence and sending troops into American cities or putting children in cages, is simply silly.