One nice thing about being a target of hate

I sometimes find myself in very good company.

Jessica Valenti, Lindy West, and…me? Gosh, thanks. I’m flattered.

Also, while it’s not really personal, the Daily Stormer wants to murder people like me. They’ve provided a helpful list for Trump’s right-wing death squads to kill, including:

  1. Lying journalists (where “lying” is defined as opposing Right-Wing Death Squads, I guess)
  2. Political opponents
  3. Human rights activists
  4. Legal immigrants
  5. Liberal university professors (that’s me!)
  6. Filthy sluts (basically, any woman who has sex)
  7. Artists and musicians

Strangely, this list isn’t tagged as “satire”. Instead, it’s got this odd note at the end.

Editor’s note: This is in no way a call for violence or murder. This is a policy position paper in the form of a listicle. The Daily Stormer is opposed to violence, and simply supports the practical implementation of innovative policies which will lead to a great America.

Oh. They’re opposed to violence, it’s just that as a matter of policy they want me executed by roving squads of extra-judicial politically-motivated assassins. Got it. That makes it all better.

But hey, it’s gratifying be classed as an enemy of the oppressive state along with artists and human rights activists and women and all those other decent people. I’ll take it. I wouldn’t want to be a member of a class that had the approval of the Daily Stormer, after all.

You can now say “Merry Christmas”?

I had no idea of the extent of Obama’s tyranny. Did you know he forbade you from saying “Merry Christmas”? Corey Lewandowski says so, so it must be true.

That’s exactly how Republicans get elected: by telling people lies about their situation, and getting them to believe them. Then, once elected they have to do nothing but declare their own lies false.

Why is Lewandowski still on television? Fox News, I can understand…but shouldn’t a respectable news organization assess the quality of their contributors, and refuse to consider giving air time to people who are demonstrably untrustworthy and dishonest?

Exuberance! Shenanigans!

Oh, those wacky Trump supporters…they are so filled with joy, they planned a big victory parade in North Carolina!

The Loyal White Knights had previously announced they would hold a “Trump victory parade” in Pelham on Saturday morning. Hundreds of protestors and reporters arrived in the small town in Caswell County for the event, though the KKK never showed.

Oh, no, they didn’t show? Were they overwhelmed with a surfeit of exhilaration? Did they party just a little too hard? I supposed you could say that.

The founder of the local Ku Klux Klan was unable to participate in the group’s festivities Saturday because he was in jail in connection with the stabbing and beating of another man at a KKK meeting the night before.

The Caswell County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday night that two men were arrested that morning after allegedly assaulting a man who was in town for a Loyal White Knights meeting.

What a shame. I hope this doesn’t quench the Klan’s joie de vivre, and that they have many more exultant, triumphant meetings in the future.

A #NODAPL victory?

The infamous pipeline is going to be rerouted.

The Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works announced Sunday.

It must be a good decision, because it’s really pissing off the right people.

North Dakota’s sole member in the House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, expressed his disapproval in a scathing statement released Sunday that slammed President Barack Obama as well as the protestors.

“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road,” Cramer wrote. “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way.”

Building infrastructure is great. Building great dangerous leaky pipelines to pump poison over water supplies, and to torment and abuse the people most affected by them, is not. Suppressing the people’s right to protest is also not great.

The Friedman Singularity

Years ago, I imagine that the management of the New York Times met to work out criteria for who would write the opinion columns in the paper. They walked in with one iron-clad commitment: they believed in “balance”, you couldn’t just bring on writers of reason and evidence, because that would be unfair to the right wing. They also tut-tutted the awkwardness of strong language and vigorously supported opinions, so they needed to find a middle ground. They decided that the way to fill their quota of conservative voices was to simply hire deeply stupid people.

And this is how Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Ross Douthat got their sinecures on the pages of the prestigious (but losing its luster) New York Times.

I think David Brooks is the worst of them, but then every time I read anything by Friedman I feel like changing my mind. This doesn’t happen often, though, because Friedman makes me vomit out of my eyesockets, which is generally incompatible with being able to read further.

Matt Taibbi has a stronger constitution than I do, apparently, and reviews Friedman’s latest metastatic column, I mean “book”, Thank You for Being Late. He is very unkind. Not unkind enough, but he gets close to what we need.

We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76 percent of the world’s taxi drivers, for predicting “the next six months will be critical” on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, “the Friedman unit”), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic “rule of holes”: “When you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

Friedman’s great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary. He became famous as a newspaper columnist for taking simple one-sentence observations like, “Wow, everyone has a cell phone these days,” and blowing them out into furious 850-word trash-fires of mismatched imagery and circular argument.

Yeah, that’s our man Tom. Terrible writer, inane pseudo-philosopher, the most predictably unimaginative source of idiotic “ideas” on the NY Times roster. I have no idea why he’s still employed. There must have been some kind of blood pact signed at the meeting I imagined, or perhaps they closed the deal with an orgy and Friedman has recordings.

Taibbi singled out one example of Friedmanesque unprofundity: this graph, intended to illustrate his claim that we’re being overwhelmed by our own technology.

badgraph1

Bad timing. I’ve been grading lab reports lately, so I’m particularly sensitive to abominations like that. Label your axes! What are the units? Are “adaptibility” and “technology” even measurable in the same way and with the same units? Hey, the ordinate is “rate of change” — do you actually intend to argue that human adaptability, for instance, is increasing? Where’s your evidence? And then I draw big red slashes through the whole thing and tell the student that this is unacceptable, you get a 0 for this assignment, go back and rewrite it.

No, really, this is disgraceful. It’s an obvious attempt to pretend that a subjective claim is factually objective by falsely casting it in the form of a quantitative measurement. You don’t get to do that.

And then it gets worse. Friedman draws a second version of the graph, with his suggestion for how we can correct this mismatch between adaptability and technology.

badgraph2

Hey, my metaphor of vomiting out of my eye sockets no longer looks so hyperbolic, does it?

So the Friedman solution for our current production of excess technology beyond our capacity to absorb (a problem that he hasn’t actually shown to exist) is to build a time machine, go into an undefined moment in the past, and make people “learn faster”. He’s written a whole book about an undemonstrated problem, illustrated it with a bogus graph, and solved it by drawing a line on the graph that shows he doesn’t understand his own illustration, and that requires multiple amazing technological feats to accomplish…in a book that complains about the rapidity of our technological advances.

I know what this means. He’s trying to get a raise from the NY Times by feeding them more of what they hired him for.

News from the homeland

Minnesota is a fairly liberal state, but Washington, especially western Washington, is where I’m from and where my heart is*. It’s good to see that Seattle is maintaining a tradition of liberal empiricism: they raised the minimum wage there a few years ago, against conservative howling that it would destroy the local economy. They’ve now acquired enough data to test that prediction, and guess what? The conservatives were full of it.

The unemployment rate in the city of Seattle – the tip of the spear when it comes to minimum wage experiments – has now hit a new cycle low of 3.4%, as the city continues to thrive. I’m not sure what else there is to say at this point. The doomsayers were wrong. The sky has not fallen. The restaurant business, by all accounts, is booming (in fact, probably reaching a saturation point when one looks at eateries per capita). I think it’s safe to say we’ve got enough data – over almost two years now – to declare that Seattle has not suffered adverse consequences from its increases in the minimum wage, and has certainly not experienced the dire effects foretold by the anti-min wage crowd.

Not that evidence matters to that group. Nor, unfortunately, to very many voters in the homeland.

It seems that Grays Harbor county (where my brother and his wife live…hi, Jim and Julie!) went Trump in this last election. They’ll get their just reward, though.

It turns out Grays Harbor County is one of the places in our state that the dreaded Obamacare has been propping up the most. This issue got barely any attention in the election — though I bet it will now.

A few years ago, 19 percent of the people there had no health coverage, one of the higher uninsured rates in the state. Today, only 9 percent remain uninsured. Almost all of that improvement is because Obamacare provided Medicaid coverage, for free or nearly free, for more than 8,000 Grays Harbor adults.

An incredible one in five Grays Harbor adults signed up for it. That’s a sign-up rate more than double King County’s.

Yet the county that’s relying on it just voted for the candidate who vowed to get rid of it.

You can’t blame my family for that, though. They all voted for Clinton. In fact, I’m one of those lucky people who would have been perfectly happy to get together with family over Thanksgiving, because they’re all raving socialists who would have voted fervently for unions and better minimum wages and supporting education and all that pinko stuff. I think our only arguments would have been over exactly how wonderful Bernie is.


*Don’t bother hunting for my phylactery, it’s well-hidden and guarded by vicious octopods.

A sudden craving for Froot Loops

While I made my brief and entirely unpleasant visit to Breitbart to read that dishonest Delingpole article, they flashed a big ad in my face telling me to BOYCOTT KELLOGG’S — apparently because the company yanked their ads from Breitbart’s big Nazi hate site. And to do that, they showed me a screen full of the products I’m supposed to avoid.

kelloggs-brands

I’m honestly not much of a breakfast cereal eater, but next time I’m at the store I’m picking some of those up. Very effective advertising, Breitbart!

Kellogg’s: the cereal of healthy Nazi-smashers everywhere!

Up is down, rich is poor

Ivanka Trump has a self-help book? Of course she does. And Jia Tolentino at the New Yorker read it. It explains so much about that whole rotten, corrupt family.

When Ivanka was a kid, she got frustrated because she couldn’t set up a lemonade stand in Trump Tower. We had no such advantages, she writes, meaning, in this case, an ordinary home on an ordinary street. She and her brothers finally tried to sell lemonade at their summer place in Connecticut, but their neighborhood was so ritzy that there was no foot traffic. As good fortune would have it, we had a bodyguard that summer, she writes. They persuaded their bodyguard to buy lemonade, and then their driver, and then the maids, who dug deep for their spare change. The lesson, she says, is that the kids made the best of a bad situation. In another early business story, she and her brothers made fake Native American arrowheads, buried them in the woods, dug them up while playing with their friends, and sold the arrowheads to their friends for five dollars each.

Her bad situation was being wealthy; her solution was to compel her servants and bodyguards, you know, the little people, to give her more money, and to lie to her friends to trick them into giving her yet more money. And she’s completely oblivious to the ethical problems with what she did!

I hope all of her businesses fail and that she is publicly scorned by all of her friends, but I suspect she’s just going to come out of the next few years richer, and that her friends are all just as awful as she is.