Ancient Technology

This is the last post for this blog, at least in its current format.

I have maintained it for almost 16 years off and on, but times change. At times it has had decent readership, but since Twitter and Facebook and their ilk really took off and consumed most long-form discourse, blogs have steadily declined in significance. There is only a few that I still read, and then only for specialized knowledge fit for little other than specialists.

I have never had a significant social media presence, and I have no real plan to change that. I chucked Facebook and Twitter out the door years ago, just like I walked away from innumerable discussion boards. Ultimately, they’re not for me.

The virus’s ability to ruthlessly crunch the time I need to do my job as a professor has alerted me to what activities I could cut without losing much, and this blog is one of those. Its longevity is mostly a sign of my innate stubbornness.

I’m going to back up the database in a few days and read through the entries to see if there’s an article idea in there that I’ve forgot about, but after that, it’s adieu. I may keep the domain name parked for some other purpose.

Texas is Italy

I thought the spike would be visible by June 1st. Later is better, but not much better. July is going to be bad. If New York state is any indication, the virus will kill thousands of Texans in the next two months. I hope it stays in the four-digit range.

Our governor has been damn near useless in his rush to reopen. Other states have been more fortunate to have leadership that understands the stark severity of our situation. But even that’s not enough.

The time to prevent the virus from crossing state lines with was well before March. All we have now is social distancing, and it’s not enforced. This is the thing, and it’s not widely understood or said enough. The only reason that only 128,000 Americans are dead is because the majority of Americans voluntarily locked down their movement for three months.

Every newspaper I read is always talking about new cases going down in some states when they need to be precise. Cases are not going down anywhere. The rate of increase may be declining, but in all 50 states, new people are getting infected, every day.

And being a Texan is not going to save you. It will only make you arrogant enough to infect others. It’s the R value.

I wish I could say the political situation is improving, but it’s not much better. We are headed for a contested November election. I’m guess that Trump will attempt a deal – he’ll concede in return for a Biden pardon, his only way out of avoiding the raft of lawsuits waiting the loss of presidential immunity. Then he can preen himself as an alt-right martyr and hope for a slow Nixon-style transformation to elder statesman.

I hope Biden is smart enough to decline.

Easier Identification

Wow. It’s really easy to ID the racists now.

If I had any doubts about someone, those doubts have evaporated in the last ten days. Everyone with latent yearnings for white power has made it a priority to buy the biggest set of dog-whistles they could find and blow them online 24-7 to the point they are forming complex chordal works of nonsense that would make George Wallace look moderate.

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.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/police-officers-stood-protesters-outraged-george-floyds-death/

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.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/31/trump-flees-to-bunker-as-protests-over-george-floyd-rage-outside-white-house

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?

Yeah.

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: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_nn_20200511&instance_id=18384&nl=the-morning. 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.