Messaging against malice

See update for August 7, 2021, at end of post.

David Leonhardt complains about the messaging[1] in yesterday’s (July 27, 2021) announcement that people in some areas of the country should resume wearing masks in indoor public places.[2] He’s not wrong; I was wondering if it would apply in Allegheny County. It doesn’t,[3] 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

  1. [1]David Leonhardt to Morning list, “A confusing message,” New York Times, July 28, 2021,
  2. [2]Yasmeen Abutaleb, Joel Achenbach, Dan Diamond, and Adam Taylor, “CDC urges vaccinated people in covid hot spots to resume wearing masks indoors,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021,; Sabrina Siddiqui and Tarini Parti, “CDC Urges Vaccinated People to Resume Wearing Masks Indoors in Some Areas,” Wall Street Journal, July 27, 2021,
  3. [3]Paul Guggenheimer, “What the CDC mask recommendations mean for Western Pennsylvanians,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 27, 2021,

Lock up the anti-vaxxers

See updates through August 7, 2021, at end of post.

According to the Washington Post, “Messaging experts counseled for months that blaming unvaccinated Americans would only backfire.”[1] But it’s apparent that it is not my patience alone that has been exhausted:[2] Read more

  1. [1]Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021,
  2. [2]Dan Diamond and Tyler Pager, “‘Patience has worn thin’: Frustration mounts over vaccine holdouts,” Washington Post, July 23, 2021,; David Frum, “Vaccinated America Has Had Enough,” Atlantic, July 23, 2021,; Paul Waldman, “I’m tired of being nice to vaccine refusers,” Washington Post, July 27, 2021,

Normalized pedophilia and other discrepancies of the young

This ad (figure 1) keeps showing up in, of all places, a Times of Israel newsletter:

Fig. 1. Screenshot taken by author from Times of Israel newsletter on July 24, 2021, fair use.

Has it never occurred to the people who are determined to eviscerate every last pubic hair that they seek to reproduce the appearance of pre-pubescent genitalia? That such a determination is, to me, evidence of pedophilia? Read more

Weeding out the stupid

See updates through July 27, 2021, at end of post.

Among my darker thoughts is a wish that COVID-19 would be more efficient at weeding out the evilly stupid. It almost—only almost— is.[1] It really doesn’t work like that, with the as yet mostly unrealized potential for variants that will more readily “break through” vaccinations.[2] But Jesus, I tire of the stupid. Read more

  1. [1]Melanie Evans and Julie Wernau, “Unvaccinated Americans Are Behind Rising Covid-19 Hospitalizations,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021,; Ed Kilgore, “The Willfully Unvaccinated Are the Newest Republican Martyrs,” New York, July 13, 2021,; Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin, II, “Tougher tactics targeting the unvaccinated needed to stop new COVID-19 spike, experts say,” Los Angeles Times, July 14, 2021,; Ed Pilkington and Lauren Aratani, “US seeing ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated’ as cases rise in every state,” Guardian, July 16, 2021,
  2. [2]Maggie Fox, “Unvaccinated people are ‘variant factories,’ infectious diseases expert says,” CNN, July 3, 2021,

A rigidity to Uber’s stupidity

See update for July 25, 2021, at end of post.

To try to make a long story short, driving for Uber and Lyft on Pittsburgh roads destroyed my 2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid; maintenance costs had become ludicrous. Uber and Lyft have arrangements with rental car companies such that I could, in theory, rent a car to drive, but rental cars have become hard to get and very expensive.[1] Another issue is that for this kind of work, I really need some options that make the car more resilient to the abuse it must endure, and I put a lot of mileage on, so I’m feeling like a used car (right now, even these are ludicrously expensive[2]) is really an inadequate solution. So I ordered a new car and waited and waited and waited, because a shortage of computer chips has slowed production.[3] That car has finally arrived and I have a temporary vehicle registration from the dealer, which I have submitted to Uber and Lyft so I can resume driving. Read more

  1. [1]Scott McCartney, “Wait, Where Did All the Rental Cars Go?” Wall Street Journal, April 14, 2021,
  2. [2]Nora Naughton, “Selling Your Used Car? You Could Turn a Profit,” Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2021,
  3. [3]Debby Wu, Sohee Kim, and Ian King, “Why the World Is Short of Computer Chips, and Why It Matters,” Bloomberg, June 17, 2021,

Cornel West’s resignation and neoliberalism’s pernicious influence on academia

There is much in Cornel West’s resignation from faculty at Harvard Divinity School to unpack here:

Perhaps it is that I am old and that my eyes now make reading fine print difficult, so with assistance from Google’s magic, I will render the text from that image: Read more

The choice of violence over safety

The explosion in gun nuttery leading up to the 2020 election,[1] in part because conservatives were afraid Joe Biden wouldn’t allow them to, also led to people buying guns because they were afraid of the gun nuts that surrounded them.[2] It’s an example of the very thing anti-gun folks fear: Guns lead to more guns and, inevitably, the violence that accompanies those guns.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Abha Bhattarai, “‘We’ve got to protect ourselves’: Some threaten to shop elsewhere if they can’t openly carry guns,” Washington Post, September 6, 2019,; Andrew Chung, “U.S. Supreme Court weighs challenge to New York gun transport limits,” Reuters, December 1, 2019,; Jane Coaston, “The Virginia gun rights rally raising fears of violence, explained,” Vox, January 17, 2020,
  2. [2]Marc Fisher et al., “‘Fear on top of fear’: Why anti-gun Americans joined the wave of new gun owners,” Washington Post, July 10, 2021,
  3. [3]Gun Violence Archive, 2021,

That merit should yield at least a decent living

Full disclosure: I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans, accumulated on my way to my Ph.D., but the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (Pheaa) is not my servicer. My student loan servicer horror story wasn’t really a horror story so much as an absence of communication that convinced me to change servicers as I consolidated all of it into income based repayment and my advice to other borrowers since has been consistently to get out from under Navient. I gather Great Lakes also has its problems, but for the most part, they’ve been much more tolerable.

“No doubt critics will see [the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency] bowing out [from federal student loan servicing] as a positive development,” Justin S. Draeger, president and chief executive of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said in an email. “But with one major servicer exiting, and still no comprehensive plan” from the Education Department “on how they’ll be transitioning millions of borrowers into repayment, let alone a publicly available comprehensive strategy on loan servicing, the task before the Department grows more daunting every day.”[1]

Apparently Pheaa had been the target of numerous complaints, at least some of which apply to the industry as a whole, and is withdrawing due to “the complexity and cost of managing those programs.”[2] Read more

  1. [1]Eric Kelderman, “The Plan to Resume Federal Student-Loan Repayments in October Just Hit an Obstacle,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2021,
  2. [2]Eric Kelderman, “The Plan to Resume Federal Student-Loan Repayments in October Just Hit an Obstacle,” Chronicle of Higher Education, July 8, 2021,

George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror ends in defeat

George W. Bush’s “Global War on Terror” is now ending in defeat, unless one regards Iraq, where Iran’s influence seems at least as great as that of the U.S.,[1] as “victory,” or one regards Afghanistan, where the Taliban is far from defeated,[2] as “victory.” The U.S. withdrawal from the latter will be complete and the “main British mission” will be out on July 4.[3] Read more

  1. [1]Julian Borger and Martin Chulov, “Iran general Qassem Suleimani killed in Baghdad drone strike ordered by Trump,” Guardian, January 3, 2020,; International Crisis Group, “Averting the Middle East’s 1914 Moment,” August 1, 2019,; Luke Harding, “Trump accuses Iran over storming of US embassy compound in Baghdad,” Guardian, December 31, 2019,; Louisa Loveluck et al., “Trump says Iranian military leader was killed by drone strike ‘to stop a war,’ warns Iran not to retaliate,” Washington Post, January 3, 2020,; David Nakamura, “In confrontation with Iran, Trump wrestles with the shadow of Obama, ‘the metric he has to beat,’” Washington Post, January 5, 2020,; Missy Ryan et al., “How Trump decided to kill a top Iranian general,” Washington Post, January 3, 2020,; Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly, “Protesters chanting ‘Death to America’ break into U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad,” Washington Post, December 31, 2019,; Mustafa Salim and Liz Sly, “Supporters of Iranian-backed militia end siege of U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” Washington Post, January 1, 2020,; Paul Waldman, “Trump’s rationales for the Soleimani killing are falling apart,” Washington Post, January 5, 2020,
  2. [2]Gordon Lubold and Yaroslav Trofimov, “Afghan Government Could Collapse Six Months After U.S. Withdrawal, New Intelligence Assessment Says,” Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2021,
  3. [3]Danielle Sheridan, Ben Farmer, and Sami Yousafzai, “Taliban has won the war in Afghanistan, says Lord Dannatt as UK and US troops pull out,” Telegraph, July 1, 2021,

It’s okay to be a rapist as long as you are sufficiently powerful

So let’s pick this apart:

In the screenshot that Peter Daou includes in his tweet, Sandy Knauer asserts that she would vote for Joe Biden over Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders even if Biden raped her “in the middle of Fifth Avenue.”[2] Read more

  1. [1]Peter Daou, “Something tells me I'm wasting my time arguing with Biden defenders. . . .” Twitter, July 1, 2021,
  2. [2]Screenshot in Peter Daou, “Something tells me I'm wasting my time arguing with Biden defenders. . . .” Twitter, July 1, 2021,