I have been mostly silent about the recall campaign against Governor Gavin Newsom in California. California became a state too much enamored with artificial idiocy and money for me. I am no longer a California resident and Californians are no longer my people, so, to some degree, it’s really no longer my business. Read more
See update for September 13, 2021, at end of post.
I needed my sleep.
But my neighbor, a friend from the Star Trek fan club chapter we were both members of, was banging on my door. “You have to see this,” he yelled.
It was September 11, 2001, and the scene on his television set (I didn’t have one) was of smoke rising out of a World Trade Center building. CNN would become notorious for endlessly showing again and again video footage taken of planes crashing into the towers. Read more
I have noted, for a while now, a strong bias among social scientists in the “nature versus nurture” question in favor of nurture, that is, that traits can largely be attributed to one’s social environment, especially as a child. The most obvious counterexample is sexual orientation; many gays and lesbians insist strongly that they were “born that way.” I think people whose gender identities do not accord with their biological sexual characteristics would make a similar claim. Read more
See update for August 30, 2021, at end of post.
I’m in the early middle of moving, so I’m going to try to keep this brief.
Yes, Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been awful. There are specific reasons this happened. And yes, the future certainly appears bleak and terrifying in Afghanistan. (I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the potential for Afghan resistance to Taliban rule; I know it exists but I cannot foresee its future.) Read more
See updates through September 16, 2021, at end of post.
I continue to wear the cloth masks my mother began making for me early in the COVID-19 pandemic, mostly only in situations where they’re required.
Being fully vaccinated, I know that my risk, even from the delta variant of COVID-19 is minimal. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice to wear masks in areas of substantial or high transmission is not really about vaccinated people. It is about unvaccinated people in the U.S., many of whom are actively refusing the vaccine, even as case counts soar mostly among unvaccinated people; even as hospitals face being overwhelmed; even as medical workers (often thanklessly, often even worse) put their lives on the line—because even full vaccination is not 100 percent effective—trying to save people’s lives; even as people die. Opposition to vaccines is largely ideological, particularly among supporters of Donald Trump. Read more
The rapid collapse of Afghan government forces should eviscerate any imagination that Afghans would mount a serious defense against, yet alone repel the Taliban. Yes, there are the lessons of (not) “nation-building” and U.S. military (non-)superiority. Read more
Finally, somebody asks the right question. It seems that, in Pittsburgh and, I’m betting, a lot of places,
The thing that I hear the most is that everything’s service-related You know, “I’m looking for a job that’s gonna utilize more skills than making a hamburger or wiping down a toilet.”
It seems there’s this pesky detail that a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices did not explain their reasoning when they refused to lift the eviction ban that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had imposed and repeatedly extended. The ban was almost certainly to avoid forcing evicted tenants to move in with friends and family, increasing crowding, and exacerbating COVID-19 contagion. Read more
Afghanistan is almost certainly falling to the Taliban and I think the U.S., British, and other governments know it:
Senior US officers and White House officials insisted before the withdrawal began in May that the Afghan police and army were up to the job of defending themselves.
They were clearly wrong. . . .
While special forces units continue to fight, regular troops in many places appear to have withdrawn voluntarily or accepted offers to surrender, allowing Taliban fighters to roll into towns unopposed.
See update for August 7, 2021, at end of post.
David Leonhardt complains about the messaging in yesterday’s (July 27, 2021) announcement that people in some areas of the country should resume wearing masks in indoor public places. He’s not wrong; I was wondering if it would apply in Allegheny County. It doesn’t, but if I’m reading a map he included (figure 1) correctly, it does apply, somewhat ironically I might add, to the area where my mother lives. Read more