Racism comes in many forms

One example: a Memorial Day speech by a veteran in Akron, Ohio. It wasn’t the speaker who was at fault; he was trying to tell the story of the first Memorial Day observance, by freed slaves in 1865. The organizers cut his mic to prevent him from being heard.

What at first blush appeared to be a short audio malfunction at Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony in Markillie Cemetery turned out to be anything but.

A ceremony organizer turned off the microphone when the event’s keynote speaker, retired Army Lt. Col. Barnard Kemter, began sharing a story about freed Black slaves honoring deceased soldiers shortly after the end of the Civil War.

The microphone was turned down for about two minutes in the middle of Kemter’s 11-minute speech during the event hosted by the Hudson American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464.

Cindy Suchan, who chairs the Memorial Day parade committee and is president of the Hudson American Legion Auxiliary, said it was either her or Jim Garrison, adjutant of American Legion Lee-Bishop Post 464, who turned down the audio. When pressed, she would not say who specifically did it.

There had been some previous email back-and-forth between Kemter and Suchan/Garrison in which the organizers objected to including the mention. I might have given them some leeway if the speech had been excessively long and needed substantial cuts, but that isn’t the case for an appropriately brief 11 minute speech. Suchan and Garrison admitted that they’d turned off the sound, but haven’t said why they thought Kemter’s words were objectionable.

We can all guess why, though. Of the thousands of Memorial Day speeches that were given all across the country, Garrison and Suchan have succeeded in making this one newsworthy, and have called attention to themselves in a negative way. Smart move!

I see right through you, conservatives

I thought this was a good overview of critical race theory:

Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct, and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

Except for this part:

All these different ideas grow out of longstanding, tenacious intellectual debates. Critical race theory emerged out of postmodernist thought, which tends to be skeptical of the idea of universal values, objective knowledge, individual merit, Enlightenment rationalism, and liberalism—tenets that conservatives tend to hold dear.

I’ve never known a conservative to hold that kind of principled perspective. I’m guessing the author was trying to be charitable, but mainly what I’ve encountered is conservatives trying to rationalize their beliefs, which they acquired by tradition and upbringing rather than by actual reason. Claiming to be a “classical liberal” or that they hold “Enlightenment values” is just an excuse that sounds good…unless, of course, the values they are endorsing are imperialism, colonialism, and the inherent superiority of Western European culture. I can believe they sincerely agree with those aspects of the Enlightenment.

What we’ve got is a set of feel-good labels that obscure the complexity of what the phenomena named actually mean. It’s like saying “I like Thai food” without any further specification.

Bored now

It’s always a mistake to treat creationists gently, especially Islamic creationists. Well, maybe not especially…believers in any fundamentalist, literalist religion are a pain in the ass. This Nadir Ahmed fellow has been pestering me for a week now, saying I must make an acknowledgment of the contradictions in my previous comments (there weren’t any, I’ve been very consistent) and that I now agree that there are no errors in the Islamic summary of embryonic development. First he wanted me to say that on his YouTube video. Then he wanted me to make a blog post about it. Now he just emailed me.

We would like to assemble the team together
like we did last time, so that you can make
a presentation to us regarding these new allegations
about Quran and Embryology.

Please let us know how to proceed.

He’s awfully presumptuous. No. There were no new allegations. I am not going to take the two sentences in the Qu’ran as seriously as he does, and I assert once again that they are superficial, useless, and a bad description of embryonic development, not worth further discussion.

Donald Trump, failed blogger

I know you’ve already forgotten that Donald Trump has a blog — I talked about it last month, and pointed out that it wasn’t doing well.

How about now?

It has ceased to exist. It is no more. The plug has been pulled, and it has swirled down the drain. It is mulched bits. Gone.

The former president has shut down a blog he created just a month ago, though many of his written statements that appeared on it remain on his traditional website, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Trump had used the short-lived blog as an alternative to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites that banned him because of his constant false statements about last year’s election loss to President Joe Biden.

He has my sympathies. It takes a certain twisted mindset to maintain a blog, and that’s one psychopathology we can say that he doesn’t have.

Local is global

That’s kind of how I picture my great-grandparents’ farm. I should look it up someday.

It certainly is strange to read an article in the Guardian which mentions all these little towns in my region of Minnesota. Who has ever heard of Greenwald, or Dumont, or Chokio, or Kerkhoven? These are tiny little towns that I know of because they’re within 50 miles of me, but why is an English paper writing about them? Also, the article talks about a lot of things I was thoroughly ignorant of, despite living here.

The issue is the ongoing consolidation of dairy farms in Minnesota. My great-grandparents were dairy farmers in another teeny-tiny town north of here, Fertile, Minnesota, but they gave up on their small farm around about the time of WWII, when one of their sons invited them to live by a real fjord out in Washington state, but that loss was part of an ongoing process. Small dairy farms can’t make it anymore. Now you have to run a mega-factory farm. These are huge operations.

Dairy conglomerate Riverview LLP is​ by far the largest mega-dairy operation in the state. ​​​At the company’s flagship dairy in Morris, Minnesota, ​10​​​​,000 cows wait expectantly for the feed truck. In the “nursery”, a still-wet calf, its umbilical cord dangling, struggles against a worker who tilts back the small head and inserts a tube of colostrum all the way to its stomach.

At one day old, calves are strapped into vests, machine-lifted into a truck and transported 10 miles away to the company’s calf facility. A few days later, they are trucked more than 1,000 miles, ​either to New Mexico (if bound for the beef market) or Arizona (if destined for dairy) – a move that Riverview says is for the warmer weather.

I had no idea. I guess I need to get out more, because as a non-farmer I didn’t have a clue about what’s going on right under my nose.

Despite a ​55% nationwide decrease in dairy farms between​​ 200​2​ and 2019, cow numbers have held steady and fluid milk volume has increased – a fact that illustrates a trend toward fewer farms operating on much ​larger scales.

Between 2012 and 2017, ​Minnesota lost 1,100 dairy farms.​ In contrast, those years marked enormous growth for Riverview as it built ​three​​​ new Minnesota ​mega-​dairies, a feedlot in South Dakota ​and expanded ​its calf and dairy operations ​to New Mexico and Arizona.

Are these mega-farms better for the environment or for the people who work the land than numerous smaller farms distributed over a wider area? Probably not.

One of those potential neighbours, a ​crop farmer in Dumont, Minnesota, says a Riverview official visited him in April 2019 and shared a plan to build a 24,000-cow dairy ​​​a​ mile away. The official offered to buy the farmer’s corn for feed, and to sell manure to him as fertiliser. The offer was declined. “I said, I’m not very interested in that because you’re not paying enough for the product, and you’re charging too much for the manure.”

​​The farmer – who asked to remain anonymous – was also horrified by the idea of so many cows so close to his home. He worried about odour and air quality, wear and tear on the roads, manure leaching into streams and rivers, and the demand on the groundwater supply. “I’m telling you, it’s scary they’re going to come in here and suck that much water from the ground,” he says.​​

The 24,000-cow dairy has not ​​been built but, ​according to state records, the company has applied for a permit to build a 10,500-cow dairy approximately ​130 miles north in Waukon Township.​ Additionally, an application for another 10,500-cow dairy, in Grace Township, is under review.

I’ve been to Grace, but had to look up Waukon — it’s up north, near Fertile. These towns are tiny, between 100 and 200 people, and they’re planning on farms that hold a hundred times that many cows.

But that’s capitalism!

Physical therapy is magic

I just got back from my first physical therapy session, and I guess these doctors actually know stuff. She very quickly diagnosed my problem as an out-of-whack iliosacral joint — I was asymmetrical, one hip higher than the other. So she laid me out, gave me 3 hard yanks on the right leg, and bob’s your uncle, I was symmetrical again. But also pretty sore. I’ve got some simple exercises to do, an ice pack, and a warning to avoid sitting awkwardly. That’s it! I’ll live! And even better, I’m feeling less pain already.

Now all I have to is avoid doing anything stupid and quit pretending I’m as flexible as a teenager, and I’ll be out stomping the fields for spiders in a few weeks.

(Actually, PT isn’t magic, it’s science.)

We need to plan for the happiness of nonexistent people?

This is a bizarre article: titled Spare a Thought for the Billions of People Who Will Never Exist, subheading “As world population growth slows, the never-conceived are the ultimate forgotten ones.” I thought the anti-choicers were unbelievable with their nonsense about “unborn children”, but this takes it up a notch to “unconceived children”. Really? I have to give a thought to hypothetical people whose defining characteristic is that they will never exist? The author says we should consider this scenario:

A couple decides to have one child instead of two, or none instead of one. This happens all over the world. Billions of children are never conceived. How real is the loss of a life that never began? Is there a right to exist? Is there an ideal size of the world population?

There is no loss of a life that never began.

Things that don’t exist don’t have a right to exist.

The ideal size of the human population is a harder question. I don’t think there is an absolute, fixed size; it’s going to be variable, dependent on the environment, and also an “ideal size” is going to depend on your goal. Do you think the largest human population is ideal? Or do you think there should be some accommodation for non-human populations? I need to know your assumptions.

I’m unimpressed so far. It’s a lot of wrestling with abstractions. We should consider the plight of people who do exist before these kinds of weird hypotheticals. Apparently there is some serious philosophical work on this one, though.

The late University of Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit wrestled with the question of the world’s ideal population in an influential 1984 book, Reasons and Persons. He didn’t delve into the carrying capacity of the planet, and he stayed away from the issue of abortion, which occurs after conception and thus raises a different set of concerns.

In an abstract, theoretical way, the British thinker presented what he called the “Repugnant Conclusion.” Here’s how he stated it: “For any possible population of at least 10 billion people, all with a very high quality of life, there must be some much larger imaginable population whose existence, if other things are equal, would be better, even though its members have lives that are barely worth living.”

Fine. So if you’ve got X billion people living comfortably, could you handle X+1 billion people living slightly less comfortably? Which would be better? I can imagine this being a relevant concern if you are planning population policy — but the purpose there would be to figure out how to guide the reproductive choices of people who exist. The amount of thought you should give to people who don’t exist is zero. It’s very twisty to expect people to not forget the never-conceived, since there was no one to remember.

This is some real “every sperm is sacred” shit.