Memorializing white supremacy

It’s Memorial Day again. I’ve been back in Pittsburgh now for three years.

Fig. 1. Reproduction of poster, via Relational Implicit, “Understanding social myth: Why it’s so hard to find common ground & how to do it,” September 2020, fair use.

It has been good that I moved here. I needed to break out of the San Francisco Bay Area bubble, needed to witness the rise of white Christian nationalism—now as conservatism becomes increasingly monolithic and a far more potent force even than when Donald Trump was in office[1]—from a different perspective. Read more

  1. [1]David Benfell, “My 2024 forecast,” Not Housebroken, May 25, 2022,

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) wants to improve safety? REALLY?!!???!!!!

My skepticism about the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s proposal to improve traffic flow on the Parkway East (Interstate 376, from downtown Pittsburgh to Monroeville) arises not from the substance of the proposal itself—in isolation, it seems eminently sensible—but rather the context to which it would be introduced. I disagree that drivers are complying with work zone speed limits—some are, but also, many are not—and this undermines the premise that drivers will comply with variable speed limits that are one part of the proposal.[1] Read more

  1. [1]Ed Blazina, “PennDOT considers variable speed limits, ramp gates and message boards to improve Parkway East traffic,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 24, 2022,

Vladimir Putin’s [T/t]rump card

See updates through February 21, 2023, at end of post.

Fig. 1. “The prime-minister of Hungary Viktor Orbán during the talks in Moscow.” Unattributed photograph, January 14, 2014, credited to, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0.

The uncomfortable truth for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is that two of its members, Turkey[1] and Hungary,[2] are not all on board with NATO’s support for Ukraine. Read more

  1. [1]Bloomberg, “Ukraine Latest: NATO Embraces Sweden, Finland; US Aid Vote Nears,” May 15, 2022,; Deutschewelle, “NATO: Turkey outlines demands on Finland and Sweden membership,” May 15, 2022,; Jon Henley, “Turkey says it will not approve Sweden and Finland joining Nato,” Guardian, May 16, 2022,; Jared Malsin, “Turkey Lays Out Demands as Finland, Sweden Plan NATO Entry,” Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2022,; Ishaan Tharoor, “Turkey’s awkward role in the Russia-Ukraine war,” Washington Post, May 20, 2022,; Patrick Wintour, “Why has Erdoğan doubled down on threat to veto Nordic Nato bids?” Guardian, May 18, 2022,
  2. [2]Drew Hinshaw and Laurence Norman, “Hungary’s Orban Keeps EU Guessing Over Russian Oil Embargo,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2022,

What is the end game in Ukraine?

See update for May 18, 2022, at end of post.

Every once in a while, a question has to crop up: What’s the end game here?

Julia Ioffe has argued against the possibility of a coup against Vladimir Putin on two grounds: First, she sees an entire Kremlin apparatus, a significant part of larger Russian society that shares Putin’s world view, and an even larger part willing to be complicit with him; replacing him would merely bring other people in who share his perspective and thus fail to solve the problem of the Ukraine invasion. Second, she observes that Russia has produced rulers such as Putin before; there is a pattern here that replacing Putin does not resolve.[1] Mikhail Khodorkovsky offers a bit of insight into the second of these:[2] Read more

  1. [1]Julia Ioffe, “The Death of Putin,” Puck News, March 8, 2022,
  2. [2]Will Dunn, “‘He has embarked on a war he can’t stop’: Mikhail Khodorkovsky on Putin’s next move,” New Statesman, May 3, 2022,

The illusory solidarity of the Left

I am remembering today the instructor of my social inequality class, who warned us against only being concerned with the inequality that personally afflicts us. We need to be concerned with all of it, not only as a matter of justice,[1] I say, but because if we address only a single issue of injustice, we risk recreating the very system that now benefits wealthy white men but privileging a different group instead, much as the Russian Revolution simply reshuffled who was in power, who would oppress others.[2] Justice is justice for everyone; partial steps won’t do. Read more

  1. [1]I see from a copy of my unofficial transcript that I took the class in Summer of 2007 at California State University, East Bay, but I do not recall the professor’s name.
  2. [2]Emma Goldman, “There Is No Communism in Russia,” in Red Emma Speaks: An Emma Goldman Reader, ed. Alix Kates Shulman, 3rd ed. (Amherst, NY: Humanity, 1998), 405-420.