‘O ye of little faith,’ the British are doing supply side economics again


Fig. 1. “President Ronald Reagan Presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Billy Graham in the East Room, 2/23/1983.” Series: Reagan White House Photographs, 1/20/1981 – 1/20/1989, Collection: White House Photographic Collection, 1/20/1981 – 1/20/1989. Unknown Photographer, February 23, 1983, via Wikimedia Commons, Public domain.

Economic systems are social constructions. One might suspect, however, that white Christian nationalists and other illiberals are really just jealous of the fervor that attends their observance. Read more

The perversity of perversity


Fig. 1. “Dilbert Classics,” by Scott Adams, for September 25, 2022, via GoComics newsletter, fair use.

The obvious interpretation of Scott Adams’ cartoon (figure 1) is that it refers to the ubiquitous terms of service and license agreements that, each and every single one of them, all say we should read them and which we don’t read because life is short and it’s all mumbo-jumbo anyway. The warning, of course, is that we might be agreeing to things, like Dilbert’s unicorn horn (figure 1), we might not intend.

Yawn. You’ve seen this lecture before and so have I. Read more

Spring in November?

See updates through September 30, 2022, at end of post.



Fig. 1. “[O]riginal caption: ‘Burning at the stake. An illustration from an mid 19th century book,’ scan of woodcut (19th century?), submitted by mullica [pseud.] to Flickr, and thence by Speakfree [pseud.] May 31, 2011, to Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

As Vladimir Putin faces defeat in Ukraine and questions arise about his own longevity in power,[1] I am thinking that Viktor Orbán in Hungary, who has been friendlier toward Putin than other European countries,[2] and who has been lionized by white Christian nationalists in the U.S. as offering an example of what the U.S. should become,[3] must be feeling a bit more isolated. Read more

  1. [1]Laurence Peter, “Ukraine war: Russian pop megastar Alla Pugacheva condemns conflict,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146; Insider, “Municipal deputies in 18 Moscow and St. Petersburg districts demand Putin’s resignation,” September 12, 2022, https://theins.ru/en/news/254943; Julia Ioffe, “Fear and Loathing in Moscow,” Puck News, September 13, 2022, https://puck.news/fear-and-loathing-in-moscow/; Allison Quinn, “Moscow Officials Urge Putin to GTFO: ‘Everything Went Wrong,’” Daily Beast, September 10, 2022, https://www.thedailybeast.com/moscow-officials-urge-vladimir-putin-to-give-up-power; Steve Rosenberg, “Megastar speaks out,” British Broadcasting Corporation, September 18, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-62948146
  2. [2]Drew Hinshaw and Laurence Norman, “Hungary’s Orban Keeps EU Guessing Over Russian Oil Embargo,” Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/hungarys-orban-keeps-eu-guessing-over-russian-oil-embargo-11653053395
  3. [3]Zack Beauchamp, “Ron DeSantis is following a trail blazed by a Hungarian authoritarian,” Vox, April 28, 2022, https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2022/4/28/23037788/ron-desantis-florida-viktor-orban-hungary-right-authoritarian; Zsuzsanna Szelényi, “How Viktor Orbán Built His Illiberal State,” New Republic, April 5, 2022, https://newrepublic.com/article/165953/viktor-orban-built-illiberal-state; Ishaan Tharoor, “U.S. conservatives yearn for Orban’s Hungary,” Washington Post, August 4, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2021/08/04/american-conservatives-orban-hungary/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: The U.S. right walks in Hungary’s path,” Washington Post, May 17, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/17/viktor-orban-american-right-illiberal-orbanization/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: Florida shadows Hungary’s war on LGBTQ rights,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/cpac-hungary-lgbtq-orban-florida-desantis/; Ishaan Tharoor, “The Orbanization of America: How to capture a democracy,” Washington Post, May 18, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/05/18/orban-democracy-trump-united-states-elections-hungary/; Ishaan Tharoor, “Orban at CPAC brings the ‘far-right international’ into focus,” Washington Post, August 4, 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2022/08/04/orban-hungary-far-right-international-cpac-conservative/

On ‘intelligence’


Fig. 1. “A scholar in his study,” oil on canvas by Rembrandt, 1634, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Surely I have commented in this space that no standardized test measures anything other than a particular form of literacy.[1] This is very specifically why people of color often challenge such tests as racially biased.

How are they biased? I can’t tell you. I’m white. I don’t see it like a person of color can. But in the tests I’ve taken, I certainly do recall that there were a number of questions that were more open to interpretation than the multiple choice selections, implying that a single correct answer could be chosen from those offered, would suggest. Read more

  1. [1]I lack a proper citation for this. I learned it in my final semester at California Institute of Integral Studies, the one I had to withdraw from, due to a financial aid screw-up relating to a failed attempt to change programs. Transformative Studies was the wrong program for me; I was attempting to get into the Social and Cultural Anthropology program. I wound up, much more happily at the now-defunct (or nearly so) Human Science program at Saybrook University.

The white Christian nationalist Supreme Court


Fig. 1. “Protesters in Foley Square defending the right to abortion following the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Part of 2022 abortion protests in the United States.” Photograph by Legoktm [pseud.], May 3, 2022, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Lawrence Hurley quotes a number of people, often former Supreme Court clerks,[1] saying essentially this:

The court’s legitimacy comes down to whether the public thinks the court is doing law, not politics.

It is important that the public think the justices are reaching decisions in good faith based on the law, Girgis said. “It’s bad for the system if the public doesn’t think that’s what they are doing.[2]

But it isn’t just politics. It’s religion. And it’s white Christian nationalism. Read more

  1. [1]Lawrence Hurley, “Justices join debate on Supreme Court’s legitimacy after abortion ruling,” NBC News, September 18, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/justices-join-debate-supreme-courts-legitimacy-abortion-ruling-rcna47795
  2. [2]Sherif Girgis, quoted in Lawrence Hurley, “Justices join debate on Supreme Court’s legitimacy after abortion ruling,” NBC News, September 18, 2022, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/justices-join-debate-supreme-courts-legitimacy-abortion-ruling-rcna47795

‘Pull’ and ‘Push’ factors in migration


Fig. 1. Unattributed and undated photograph, via the British Broadcasting Corporation, August 12, 2020,[1] fair use.

Republican governors in Arizona, Florida, and Texas have been flying and busing migrants to so-called “sanctuary” locales to try and gin up support for Republican campaigns:[2]

The moves by the Republican governors came just months ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Immigration continues to be a hot-button issue for many Republicans, including in Texas and Florida, where [Ron] DeSantis and [Greg] Abbott are seeking reelection. The way the governors are using immigration to drum up support is reminiscent of how Republicans in 2018, including former President Donald Trump, used the migrant caravans from Central America to stoke fear in an effort to keep their congressional majority.[3]

Something I consistently see in conversations with my passengers as an Uber driver is that people in the U.S. typically only see “pull” factors as driving migration:

Not one person has asked for a handout; they have asked to work.[4]

Read more

  1. [1]British Broadcasting Corporation, “English Channel migrants: Where they’re from and what they’re escaping,” August 12, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-53721146
  2. [2]Lisa Kashinski, Sue Allan, and Gary Fineout, “GOP governors put focus on migrants with Martha’s Vineyard transport,” Politico, September 15, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/15/desantis-migrants-marthas-vineyard-immigration-florida-00056870; Alexander Thompson et al., “‘At first they were surprised, just like us.’ Martha’s Vineyard responds to surprise arrival of planeloads of migrants,” Boston Globe, September 15, 2022, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/09/15/metro/marthas-vineyard-responds-surprise-arrival-planeloads-migrants/
  3. [3]Lisa Kashinski, Sue Allan, and Gary Fineout, “GOP governors put focus on migrants with Martha’s Vineyard transport,” Politico, September 15, 2022, https://www.politico.com/news/2022/09/15/desantis-migrants-marthas-vineyard-immigration-florida-00056870
  4. [4]Lisa Belcastro, quoted in Alexander Thompson et al., “‘At first they were surprised, just like us.’ Martha’s Vineyard responds to surprise arrival of planeloads of migrants,” Boston Globe, September 15, 2022, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2022/09/15/metro/marthas-vineyard-responds-surprise-arrival-planeloads-migrants/

Nate Cohn embarrassingly goes for luck rather than rigor


Fig. 1. Graph showing the deterioration of response rates by the Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, fair use.[1]

I wasn’t planning on commenting on a story by Nate Cohn in the New York Times on how recent polling results resemble the failures in two recent election cycles.[2] Thankfully, I have my mother to remind me that yes, I probably do need to comment. Read more

  1. [1]Courtney Kennedy and Hannah Hartig, “Response rates in telephone surveys have resumed their decline,” Pew Research Center, February 27, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/27/response-rates-in-telephone-surveys-have-resumed-their-decline/
  2. [2]Nate Cohn, “Yes, the Polling Warning Signs Are Flashing Again,” Washington Post, September 12, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/12/upshot/polling-midterms-warning.html