Two images

National Guard troops at the Lincoln Memorial, today.
WWII veteran inspired comic strips - Business Insider
An appropriate historical reaction.

The Lincoln Memorial is not in the slightest fucking danger. What the hell. It is an oasis in a desert of injustice. Old Abe has seen far worse than graffiti. Read the inscriptions on the walls next to him. They’re big. You can’t miss them.

I wonder what those Guard members think they are doing. It isn’t protecting the homeland, that’s for damn sure.

Reports are that the 82nd Airborne is mobilizing outside of DC. Probably choppers for rapid deployment. This is not good. If soldiers actively intercede in a protest, people will die. I really hope the officers in that division understand what an illegal order is. Active duty military should not be anywhere near a political protest.

This is the last chance for conservative Republicans, I think. You had your best chance with impeachment. You choked. Now it’s far worse. You can follow our Fearless Leader into chaos, or step back.

Note before you make your principled decision that there are now at least twenty-five million unemployed Americans available to man these widespread decentralized protests.

25th Amendment time

Whether or not Section 4 could be invoked has been a simmering back-burner topic since our Fearless Leader was elected. But only today did I start thinking it was an actual possibility.

My reasoning is the growing discomfort inside Facebook, Twitter, and Fox News, who are the three media pillars of his administration. The Senate is the firewall of his political power base, but that corporate triad represents his ability to whip up the public. If Fox-Face-Twit begin to fully resist his increasingly naked calls for violence, his only play going forward is to double down on it all: mail ballots, the media, protestors, anyone that disagrees with him, kitchen sinks, etc.

Military police in DC is not good. When will they leave, I wonder? Will they leave?

The bible photo op is an incredibly interesting piece of visual rhetoric. Every news source has a slightly different version. I just picked one:

Trump stops by St. John's church and takes photo with bible

This would be a bizarre shot even for an ordained priest. There is an attempt to communicate here, but what? Support for St. John’s? Church over state? We are a nation of God-fearers? Authority of Judeo-Christian beliefs? Shoring up the evangelical base? Showing off his new leather-bound KJV?

More of this, less of that

In some places, the police are marching with the protesters. Note that one of them is Houston’s police chief.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if this was the default response to protests against police brutality?

It would be even more interesting if the funding of police departments was inversely linked to how violent their methods were.

Still more interesting would be a multi-year national freeze on hiring males as police officers. Maybe I’m missing one or two notable ones, but I can’t recall any nationwide-famous incidents with female cops. Only about 12% of American police are female.

Meanwhile, instead of attempting anything resembling leadership, our Fearless Leader cowered in his bunker Friday night with his “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.”

Note the SS protects the President, but he can overrule them. A famous example is when Nixon visited protestors at the Lincoln Memorial in 1970.

Can you imagine our Fearless Leader interacting with protestors? Walking with them, sharing their concerns? Emphasizing with their pain? Taking on the mantle of his office for the first time?


Podcast – Informal Conversations

Adam Ellwanger and I have started a podcast of sorts called Informal Conversations, where we talk about issues in higher education. The first three episodes are on Youtube. I know, I know, it’s a Google entity, but Adam put them there, so I feel reasonably absolved of much responsibility. The first one is short as it only sets the scope of the show; the next two are close to an hour and both concern whether folks should be pursuing Ph.Ds. in the humanities these days.

Journal of the Virus Year Entry 6

I went to Home Depot a few days ago, tentatively, hoping it would be deserted. It was not. They were limiting the amount of people inside, but not the amount of idiots. Half weren’t wearing masks, and three-fourths thought six feet was two feet. I did not stay long as HD’s usual problem of keeping enough heavy carts inside the store to actually get anything to the registers was multiplied x10.

When the two-week-out effects of this partial Texas reopening manifest in the numbers, I wonder who will get the blame.

This is a good summary of how infections happen even to people that are seemingly being careful: Needless to say, a secured mask is necessary equipment outside our yard or the car.

H and I need to run back to UHD in the next few days to get books. I am not looking forward to it. But after June 1 it will be an even worse idea than it is now.

Journal of the Virus Year Entry 5

I think Texas is screwed. We will be New York City by June 1st.

I don’t think the average person is discerning the difference between a decrease in the rate of infection and a positive rate of infection, or how critical it is to realize our current situation is only as “good” as it is because of the lockdown. This includes a number of state governors.

About the only silver lining is that enough people are convinced to stay at home and stay safe as they can, without government or workplace intervention, to keep us out of the original worse-case scenarios.

UHD, along with many other universities, is poised to make decisions about the format of the fall semester by the end of May. I don’t see any likely May scenarios that allow anything other than a locked-down campus in August.

I hope I’m wrong.

Journal of the Virus Year Entry 4

This piece by a Sephora worker in the Times spoke to me.

I worked my way through college with the help of a dozen part-time jobs in five years, usually putting in 20-30 hours a week while taking classes and as much as I could get during summers. I made anywhere between $4 and $7 an hour with zero benefits during this stretch, doing everything from industrial assembly to retail to data entry to tutoring. My conclusion after the first three years was that working for a living was tolerable for a single person with no dependents, but not desirable, and also realizing that I was not on track to graduate in even six years, I hunkered down and finished in five.

I was lucky to get out of the hourly-wage trap fairly young. Some never do. None of those dozen-odd jobs had any real hope of advancement for the bulk of people holding onto them.

The only time I think I was noticed in that five-year period as anything but a replaceable drone was when I worked the floor at Target. There was a fifteen-minute window of humanity that occurred after I accidentally ran over my foot with a forklift. While sitting in the breakroom afterward, able to walk but not exactly in the mood, I met the store manager for the first time, who seemed very concerned about me until I grokked that he was more concerned about the compensation claim that I might file. I was unable to muster enough duplicity to turn my misfortune into a check, and assured him I was fine, after which I limped back to work.

College allowed me to escape that kind of job, but only put me in a kind of low-earth orbit where I could be pulled back down by the early 00s economy. Graduate school ended up being my ticket to a stable orbit. For others, starting a company, joining the military, or criminal enterprises might do the trick…

One thing I fear this virus has short-circuited, though, is the ability to to even attempt upward mobility. I could manage the U of A’s tuition at $900 a semester in 1993, but UHD, where I teach, has the lowest four-year tuition in Houston – at $3500 for 4 classes. Target’s paying better, sure – $13 versus the $5.25 I got – but it doesn’t add up. This generation has got it rougher – and only if Target and its corporate ilk is open and not completely intolerable. I could probably write a novel working from stories from that one job. Eh. It’s probably been written already. And that one piece says it all.

Journal of the Virus Year, Entry 3

I received word that I was promoted to full Professor today. For the unfamiliar, this is the last of the three ranks of professorship, the first being Assistant Professor, and the second being Associate Professor, which is the level one first receives tenure. I went up for promotion somewhat early, so start to finish, 11 years.

Now, if I could only leave the house…

Faculty Senate went pretty well in Zoom on Tuesday, so we’re going to resume the usual schedule next Tuesday.

No one in the house is actively sick, and there have been no murders thus far.