Fig. 1. “‘Masterly inactivity,’ or six months on the Potomac; caricature of inactivity of Confederate and Union soldiers on both sides of the Potomac River between summer 1861 and winter 1862, published in Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper, vol. 13 (1862 Feb. 1), p. 176. Cartoon satirizing the extended military standoff between General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac and Confederate General Beauregard’s Army of the Shenandoah during the fall and winter of 1861.” Cartoon by Albert Berghaus, 1862, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
I did not write this:
Once a political culture embraces the path of the dark triad—narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy—negative end products are not simply possible, but inevitable. There’s only one chance to stave off the worst potential outcomes in the United States: Recognize our 50-state partnership as a failed marriage and, like adults, move on.
Though it’s an idea I’ve advocated for some time—honestly, to me, nothing else makes sense—I also regretfully recognize it as enormously problematic, and in fact, the idea of divvying up red and blue states, that B. Duncan Moench reifies, barely scratches the surface of the problem. Read more
Fig. 1. “Elon Musk shared a video of his entrance on his Twitter account.” Photograph attributed to Elon Musk, October 26, 2022, via the New York Post, fair use.
Philip Bump brings together themes I visited in a couple of my recent blog postings:
It’s not clear whether [Elon] Musk understands that Twitter polls are not particularly meaningful. In discussing his polls with users on the platform, for example, Musk embraced ideas that would plaster a veneer of accuracy on top of the fundamentally unscientific process.
I, of course, addressed Elon Musk’s methodology on November 21. There’s nothing radical here. It’s basic to survey methodology that you’re supposed to use a representative sample and that what Musk or anybody else is relying on with Twitter polls is not, and cannot be, a representative sample. Read more
Fig. 1. “In Beijing, people hold white sheets of paper – a symbolic protest against censorship – at a demonstration against Covid restrictions.” Photograph by Thomas Peter for Reuters, undated, via the Guardian, fair use.
The protests [against China’s zero-COVID policy] erupted on Friday in Urumqi, the regional capital of the far west Xinjiang region, after footage of a fire in a residential building that killed at least 10 people the day before led to accusations that a Covid lockdown was a factor in the death toll.
Urumqi officials abruptly held a news conference in the early hours of Saturday to deny Covid measures had hampered escape and rescue. Many of Urumqi’s 4 million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.
Fig. 1. Archive photograph of Joseph Goebbels by an unnamed photographer, 1942, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1989-0821-502, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE.
I have mostly been critical of white Christian nationalists for their abuse of so-called “free speech” to promote conspiracy theories, particularly regarding COVID-19. But it hasn’t just been the right wing. And it hasn’t just been about COVID-19. See, for example, Ukraine, where both left-wing (see, for examples, the Green Party and the Democratic Socialists of America) “tankies.” and the paleoconservative right wing support Vladimir Putin, because any imperialism is just fine and dandy as long as it isn’t U.S. or North Atlantic Treaty Organization imperialism. And of course, a major concern with Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter has been that he will encourage disinformation, that is, when not posting it himself. Read more
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, November 25, 2020.
Pittsburgh enjoys a reputation for being a relatively affordable place to live. But the pattern of landlords “upgrading” apartments and raising rents dramatically is taking a toll, and not just in housing. Read more
Portrait of Elon Musk. Photograph by Debbie Rowe, July 13, 2018, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
The first thing to understand about Elon Musk’s poll on Twitter, asking whether Donald Trump should return to the platform, which is true of any poll on Twitter, is that it does not rely on representative sample. It is rather what is called a “snowball” sample. Musk has his followers, many of whom saw and responded to the poll, some of whom retweeted it, so that others, including his non-followers might respond. As word spreads, some other folks on Twitter looked on Musk’s timeline and found the poll, responding and retweeting in turn. Read more
See update for November 24, 2022, at end of post.
It is almost always a bad idea to look at opinion pieces of any sort in the Wall Street Journal, and this is no exception. Read more
Fig. 1. Drawing attributed to Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, 1874, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.
If ever you were looking for evidence that government has been captured by capitalism, consider this formulation:
The prime minister [of the United Kingdom] and the chancellor have attempted to prepare the ground for a bleak autumn statement, saying that everybody should expect higher taxes and arguing that financial markets were expecting deep cuts to public spending.
Speaking en route to the G20 in Bali, Rishi Sunak told reporters that the reason financial markets were no longer in turmoil was because they expected the government to clamp down on borrowing and squeeze spending.
See update for November 13, 2022, at end of post.
Fig. 1. “The battle of Gettysburg, Pa. July 3d. 1863, depicting the Battle of Gettysburg, fought July 1—3, 1863. The battle was part of the American Civil War and was won by the North. Hand-colored lithograph by Currier and Ives.” Nathaniel Currier and James Merrit, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain
I’m still picking up the pieces here, but it is clear that I was right to point to a couple wild cards, namely the right to an abortion and Donald Trump, at least in this election and, perhaps, in 2024. It is also clear that Republicans have overstepped with white Christian nationalism and that Donald Trump’s grievances aren’t the winning campaign argument he assumed they were. Read more
See update for November 9, 2022, at end of post.
Fig. 1. Photograph by author, August 25, 2020.
One of the things we learn with systems theory is to embrace paradox, to understand it as the rule rather than the exception. And so it is with white Christian nationalists: