Trump is a loser.

Don’t Cower | Talking Points Memo:

I’ve seen plenty of comments today on the order of “That’s the law? Since when does Trump follow the law?” “You think now he’s going to start paying attention to the constitution?”

I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk.

I’ve been saying for months – along with so many others – that this Fall will be an ordeal of democracy. Perhaps one of the greatest threats our Republic has ever faced from internal enemies. But the truth is that the values and reflexes that make liberals and Democrats support things that will make society more just and humane lead them to react to moments like these with outrage and trembling more than mockery and power.

I can only suggest people not fall back into themselves.

All of this comes from Trump’s weakness rather than strength. A sinking ship. The answer in any trial of strength or right is to maintain the initiative rather than cower.

Things are bad, and they will get worse between now and January. That has always been the case, and pretty much everything since January of 2017 has been about harm reduction and least-bad options.

That said, Trump is a loser. He’s on the run from his creditors (both literal and figurative), and he knows it. He’s a cheap con artist surrounded by fools and sycophants.

While I do not want to understate the dire situation currently facing this country, we do ourselves no favors by freaking out. Stay mad and stay outraged, but stay calm. We can win.

264 Words

Sunrise at Beacon Field

4 Words

For $2.39, the quality of the paper in this composition book I randomly bought at CVS is astoundingly good.

Sure, it’s not Tomoe River, but honestly, it’s not far off. I am really surprised and impressed.

37 Words

The coronavirus isn’t going to be washed away for us.

The Scourge of Hygiene Theater – The Atlantic:

Scientists still don’t have a perfect grip on COVID-19—they don’t know where exactly it came from, how exactly to treat it, or how long immunity lasts.

But in the past few months, scientists have converged on a theory of how this disease travels: via air. The disease typically spreads among people through large droplets expelled in sneezes and coughs, or through smaller aerosolized droplets, as from conversations, during which saliva spray can linger in the air.

Surface transmission—from touching doorknobs, mail, food-delivery packages, and subways poles—seems quite rare. (Quite rare isn’t the same as impossible: The scientists I spoke with repeated the phrase “people should still wash their hands” about every five minutes.) The difference may be a simple matter of time. In the hours that can elapse between, say, Person 1 coughing on her hand and using it to push open a door and Person 2 touching the same door and rubbing his eye, the virus particles from the initial cough may have sufficiently deteriorated.

Wash your hands. Wear a mask. Stay physically distant and don’t gather in large groups. Avoid being in enclosed spaces with people unless you have explicitly discussed mutual precautions and social circles.

With a few exceptions, most of this hosing down and scrubbing of surfaces with antimicrobials is a distraction and a waste.

Nobody wants to admit that we have to change our behavior—we want keep going about our lives like always, and have the problem to be fixed for us. It’s like assuming we don’t need to worry about the garbage we generate BECAUSE RECYCLING!

275 Words

The Constant Risk of a Consolidated Internet – The Atlantic:

So the centralization began. Blogs, which once required installing software on your own server, became household services such as Blogger, Typepad, WordPress, and Tumblr. Social-media services—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and the rest—vied for user acquisition, mostly to build advertising-sales businesses to target their massive audiences. The services began designing for compulsion, because more attention makes advertising more valuable. Connections, such as friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, colleagues on LinkedIn, all became attached to those platforms rather than owned by individuals, and earlier efforts to decentralize those relationships effectively vanished. Even email, once local to ISPs or employers, became centralized in services such as Hotmail and Gmail.

In the process, people and the materials they create became the pawns of technology giants. Some of the blog platforms were acquired by larger tech companies (Blogger by Google, Tumblr by Yahoo), and with those roll-ups came more of the gatekeeping (especially for sexually explicit material) that decentralization had supposedly erased. One of the most urgent questions in today’s information wars surrounds how—not whether—Facebook should act as a gatekeeper of content across its massive, centralized global network. “Content,” in fact, might be the most instructive fossil of this age, a term that now describes anything people make online, including the how-to videos of amateur crafters, the articles that journalists write, and policy pronouncements by world leaders. Whereas one might have once been a writer or a photographer or even a pornographer, now publishing is a process of filling the empty, preformed vessels provided by giant corporations. A thousand flowers still bloom on this global network, but all of them rely on, and return spoils to, a handful of nodes, just as communications systems did before the ARPAnet.

300 Words

We need to change the structure of civic engagement.

End the Public Meeting as We Know It – ELGL:

Perhaps most importantly, we have the technology to improve upon traditional public meetings. Although we’ve had access to reliable, widely adopted virtual town hall and video conferencing tools for a decade, too often local governments remain stuck in the old ways.

We must invest in digital engagement beyond social media. While social media is a critical vehicle for reaching residents and furthering the conversation, major platforms do not naturally foster collaboration and in fact thrive on confrontation. Effective digital engagement means bolstering a social media strategy with additional tools to collect and analyze public input, as well as empowering staff to help translate feedback into policy.

We cannot view digital engagement as a panacea for all public engagement, the way many leaders viewed social media early on.

This kind of stuff is really hard to change, because it tends to be written into city charters and laws, and backed by decades (or more) of organizational and civic inertia.

Nonetheless, it needs to change.

Local government is where we can have the most direct, most important impact on issues that affect our communities, but without major changes to how local government and citizens can engage, it is going to continue to be the same voices—i.e., the people who are able to show up to town meetings and write My Turn columns for the op-ed page—who have a say.

241 Words

Cancel culture is a fake problem.

Help, Help, I Can’t Be Published! | Whatever:

I was a reader of Christopher Hitchens; he wasn’t entirely editorially inflexible, and he didn’t exactly lack a willingness to go where the money was. I pretty strongly suspect that in the year 2020, Hitchens would have found a way to cast his thoughts in a manner that would be appealing to the market now. Either Brooks doesn’t understand that about Hitchens, or he thinks his readers don’t understand it, so he’s either a fool or a cynic (or both! It could be both!). Either way, he’s probably wrong.

Personally, I’ve never been much of a fan of Hitchens’ stuff, but I agree with Scalzi here.

“Cancel culture,” like political correctness before it, is a made-up problem created by entitled assholes who are mad they can no longer say whatever dumb, offensive shit is in their heads without consequences.

If you are worried about cancel culture, you really need to spend some time re-examining your priorities.

169 Words

I’m kind of shocked I was actually able to get a copy of this so quickly from the library. Exciting!

21 Words

Storm’s a-brewin’.

3 Words

Purdue Pharma actively and deliberately created the opioid epidemic in the United States. The company should be liquidated, and all of the Sackler family's money should be taken away from them and used to fund real recovery programs for their victims.
43 Words