Christ, Texas.

Florida is pretty bad, and Arizona is working its way down the rankings, but I’m going to say it: Texas is the very worst. It’s a shithole state run by horrible people. I’m sorry if you live there, you’re either going to have to flee or elect better representatives.

The latest example of Texan villainy: their house of representatives passed a law to silence teachers.

Republicans in the Texas House passed a bill Tuesday that effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events.

The bill, which is being fast-tracked to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to sign into law, states that social studies and civics teachers aren’t allowed to discuss the concept that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” or the idea that “an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”

It also states that social studies and civics teachers “may not be compelled to discuss current events or widely debated and currently controversial issues of public policy or social affairs” as part of a course.

Oh, also…

The legislation also states that teachers don’t have to take professional training ― like cultural proficiency and equity training ― if it makes them feel any “discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress” because of their race or gender.

If you’re a white man, you can’t be allowed to feel any guilt about your race and gender’s role in American history. At least it’s something that they know they should feel shame, so they have to pass laws to prevent anyone from confronting them.

Just this week, Philosophy Tube posted an appropriate video on ignorance and the state sponsorship thereof. She’s very timely.

Speaking of fleeing Texas, I have one son who has been living there…but he’s getting out this very week to move to the much more progressive state of Washington. A wise move — and I really am sorry for all of you stuck down there in America’s rectum.

The only reason I voted for him is because the alternative was even worse

I agree completely with Marcus: Biden is a horrible jackass. But as the saying goes, he’s our jackass, and he’s the lesser jackass, compared to the previous jackass. Still, let’s primary him and elect someone better.

Also, let’s stop propping up corrupt right-wing regimes, like that of Netanyahu, right now. He’s outright murdering civilians and committing genocide, and we give him the bombs to do it with?

Good advice for new graduates

Adults are rubbish! Don’t trust us or listen to us except for this one thing which is: immediately form yourself into a huge ferocious army of wild youths and destroy everything! Storm the offices of every fossil fuel organization in the world and geosequestrate them all!

Don’t ask us to do that. We’re old and tired and comfortable and we’re leaving it all up to you.

In case you were wondering how Trump’s blog is doing…

Oh, you weren’t? You kind of forgot that it exists? You don’t really care what he says anymore?

Then you already know. It’s a bust.

Four months after former President Donald Trump was banished from most mainstream social media platforms, he returned to the web last Tuesday with “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump,” essentially a blog for his musings.

A week since the unveiling, social media data suggests things are not going well.

The ex-president’s blog has drawn a considerably smaller audience than his once-powerful social media accounts, according to engagement data compiled with BuzzSumo, a social media analytics company. The data offers a hint that while Trump remains a political force, his online footprint is still dependent on returning to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Part of his problem is that his blog isn’t particularly good or well designed.

“In the case of Trump’s new platform, it is so technologically primitive that there is no way for his followers to even migrate,” Blackburn said. “Who cares about a platform where you can’t even own the libs? There are plenty of other newsletters that people have been adding to their spam boxes for years.”

I know. You weren’t wondering. But now you know!

Never again? It rings a bit hollow nowadays

Once again, Israel’s boot is stomping down hard on the Palestinians, and the Israelis are positively giddy about it.

I’m trying hard to see both sides in this conflict, and this article, for instance, is doing it’s best to present a balanced story. All I see, though, is a chronicle of a grossly asymmetric battle.

A day of upheaval at the holy sites of this contested city quickly widened into a night of warlike violence in communities across the country early Tuesday, with hundreds of rockets from the Gaza Strip causing injuries in Israeli neighborhoods and retaliatory airstrikes killing at least 22 Gazans, according to officials there.

Something is not adding up. Hundreds of rockets are launched, but the end result is only a few injured civilians?

Air-raid sirens sounded every few minutes in towns where many Israelis had already passed the night in bomb shelters. On Tuesday afternoon, more than 200 rockets struck southern Israel within the span of an hour, including in the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon just north of Gaza, according to media reports. At least four members of a family were reported injured when one rocket hit an eight-story apartment building.

These things seem to be remarkably ineffective. Are they little more than glorified fireworks? I had to look them up on Wikipedia to get the basics, and yes, they are nasty little things I wouldn’t want fired in my general direction, but they aren’t useful weapons of war.

The Qassam rocket is the best-known type of rocket deployed by Palestinian militants, mainly against Israeli civilians, but also some military targets during the Second Intifada of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. According to Human Rights Watch, Qassam rockets are too inaccurate and prone to malfunction to be used against specific military targets in or near civilian areas, and are mainly launched for the purpose of “harming civilians.”

They have a range of 3 or 4 kilometers, are grossly inaccurate, and most of them seem to fail, one way or another. In the recent escalation,

Military officials said more than 500 rockets had been launched from Gaza since the start of the flare-up, although a large percentage of them failed to cross into Israel and exploded, landing inside the enclave itself. The army’s expansive antimissile defense network, known as Iron Dome, destroyed more than 90 percent of the rockets that reached Israeli airspace, the army said.

These are tools of impotent rage that mainly seem intended to harass civilians. Israel knows this, too.

In 2006, the Israeli Ministry of Defense viewed the Qassams as “more a psychological than physical threat.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli response is somewhat more deadly and distructive.

In response to the launches, the Israel Defense Forces carried out sustained retaliatory strikes inside the Gaza Strip overnight and into the morning, with warplanes conducting more than 140 attacks. The IDF said it killed 15 Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters in strikes that targeted rocket manufacturing and storage sites, training and military complexes, two underground tunnels and the home of a battalion commander.

Images from the Shati refugee camp near Gaza City on Tuesday morning showed scenes of destruction following at least one Israeli airstrike that appeared to target the top floor of a nearby residential building. The building’s concrete rooftop collapsed onto the apartment below, where residents were shown picking through the rubble.

So Palestinians are churning out a lot of these in metal shops across their territory…

…and Israel retaliates with this.

That’s stupid. If that’s how the war is being fought, F-15s vs homemade rockets, Palestinians are doomed and flailing futilely. But Palestinians aren’t stupid, so maybe we shouldn’t assume that’s how the war is fought, and just maybe the stupid ones are the Israelis. This is a political campaign fought on a global stage, and all I see is a heavily armed bully murdering people armed with popguns, and then the bully dances in the street while innocents burn.

Who is going to win that war? I know for sure that the loser is any high-minded principles or history of courage by the people of Israel.

Are you OK, Arizona?

You’re acting strangely. You’re carrying out a partisan, biased “recount” of an already settled election, and your deep investigation involves searching for bamboo fibers in the ballot, because that would mean they were printed in China? Why would you think they’d pre-print them in China, and go to all the trouble of shipping them across the Pacific, when — I don’t know if you’re aware of this — we have plenty of paper and printers and all that sort of thing right here in the US? This is a conspiracy theory, and it is stupid.

In which case, this makes more sense: to guarantee the future supply of stupid people who will fall for stupid conspiracy theories, the Republicans want to compel schools to teach stupid ideas.

Republican lawmakers voted Wednesday to punish teachers who don’t present both sides of controversial science or events, a move some lawmakers say could force them to seek out and present contrary views on everything from climate change and slavery to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the Holocaust — and even whether Joe Biden really won the election.

The measure approved along party lines requires any “controversial issues” discussed in the classroom must be done “from diverse and contending perspectives without giving deference to any one perspective.”

Well, that’s familiar: that’s the creationist “Teach the Controversy” strategy that they deployed to enable them to introduce garbage into the classroom. Now it’s just being broadened by Arizona Republicans.

I don’t know why they’re doing this. Were they jealous of Florida’s reputation? Are they hoping to get everyone else to laugh at “Arizona Man”? Because it’s not going to happen as long as Matt Gaetz lives.

Although, I do confess, this was a pretty good effort.

Donald Trump, reduced to the lowest of the low

The poor man. He was banned from Twitter and Facebook (he tried to appeal to Facebook, but they’ve recently denied him). Then he announced that he was going to create his very own social media platform, to make an end run around Big Tech. Now he claims to have done it. You can go to his grand social media platform right now, and I did.

I looked at it.

I puzzled over it.

It’s a web page where Donald J. Trump can type things, creating “posts”, which are displayed in chronological order, and you can go to his site and read them.

Oh my god.

Trump has created a blog, and is a blogger. That’s all it is! It’s not a very good blog, and it’s missing some important things, like allowing people to comment, or like having titles (every post is titled “Donald J. Trump”), or being able to link to individual posts, but by golly, it’s a blog! A half-assed blog, but a blog nonetheless.

Welcome, Donald! You and I…we’re peers now.

It’s adorable, dude.

Embrace it. Don’t be one of those wankers who insists their blog isn’t a blog. Also don’t try to claim you’ve built a novel social media platform — it’s just an ordinary ol’ blog, just like mine!

Do you need another reason to despise the cops?

They are happy to give you one.

Police officers were among the first front-line workers to gain priority access to coronavirus vaccines. But their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public, according to data made available by some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.

The reluctance of police to get the shots threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.

At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, just 39 percent of employees have gotten at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50 percent of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36 percent of sworn officers have been vaccinated. And a mere 28 percent of those employed by the Columbus Division of Police — Ohio’s largest police department — report having received a shot.

It makes no sense. I was anxiously waiting for my turn to be vaccinated, and when the opportunity came, I was out the door like a shot and standing in line. I want to reduce my risk. But the police, who are presumably dealing with the general public every day, don’t?

The numbers paint a troubling picture of policing and public health. Because officers have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, their hesitancy puts them at greater risk of serious illness from the coronavirus while also undermining force readiness, experts said. Police officers were more likely to die of covid-19 last year than of all other causes combined, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Right. The police are quick to inflate the dangers of their profession to justify more money and more guns, but here’s a demonstrable, active risk, and they do nothing.

If they’re not going to pay any attention to rational priorities, defund the police. Fire the people who are supposed to reduce risk, but instead inflame conflict at every opportunity. That they won’t even get vaccinated is just one more example of systemic irresponsibility.

Citizens keep calling for reform, especially in the big cities, but nothing happens. If you wonder why, here’s a dismaying article about why Democratic mayors don’t take action against the police. It’s the money.

Let’s play SimCity. You won the race; you’re mayor. You’re an ambitious type who probably does want to help. But you’ve been in the big chair for a minute. You’ve burned hours and hours meeting with the rich, cutting ribbons for the rich, taking calls from the rich. You figured out by week 2 why your predecessors didn’t do the nice things they promised. You don’t answer to anyone whose first fear is the cops.

Yes, you could sub in a grab bag of psych professionals, social workers, EMTs, transit workers, firefighters, unarmed investigators, whatever. But that won’t cut it for the key funders of your town’s police foundation: Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chevron, Coke. The rich don’t just oppose defunding. Like NCAA boosters, they fund their team directly. Police unions are vocal; this gang is not. But these are the constituents who keep police budgets safe—and who top them up.

So you don’t feel pressure to make a real offer on cop budgets. The people demanding it pose no electoral threat. What are they going to do—vote Republican? You do not take them seriously. You are genuinely scared of urban revolt, but only from the folks who scare you. The ones at Goldman, BlackRock, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chevron, Coke. (Google any of those names next to “mayor.”)

These are your friends—if you deliver. You know them well from their threats to leave town, nailing you to the wall for yet more tax breaks. And from your attempts at paying them to come over. And if they make your constituents a little, well, broke, or if their services cost more than you can afford, they’ve still got your loyalty (and pensions). When they get regulated, you’re right there to rail against it. If you’re lucky, they might hire you later.

Capitalism sucks, and it sure does undermine democracy.

Would you take medical advice from a whiny rich frat boy?

Why is Tucker Carlson still on the air? He’s spreading criminal misinformation and encouraging his viewers to sic the cops on people wearing masks.

Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson thinks people wearing masks are “repulsive” and told his viewers last night that they should even call the cops when they see children wearing masks.

And knowing the yearning, empty vessels that make up the bulk of his viewing audience, you know it will happen. 911 operators will be diverted from actual emergencies so the intellectually lazy prep school boy can revel in the extent of his power.

Mind you, it’s children wearing masks in Walmart that so disgusts him. Not the oppositional defiance bunch that so proudly sports semi-automatic weapons in Walmart.

“Masks have always been incompatible with a free society. We used to know that. Masks strip people of their identity as individuals, transform people from citizens into drones. They isolate us and alienate us to shut us off from one another, they prevent intimacy and human contact. If I can’t see your face, I can’t know you.”

You want America to become another India? Because that’s how you get India.

So what went wrong? Experts cite the spread of the U.K. variant and frequent large events with unmasked crowds. State election rallies have gone ahead, and a Hindu festival drew millions of people to the Ganges River this month—leading to more than 1,000 new cases. But the emergence of a more contagious Indian strain seems to be the biggest factor. In March, a government statement warned of new variants that “confer immune escape and increased infectivity.” In fact, the Indian strain may have been circulating as early as October.

Shamika Ravi, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Foreign Policy that both the new strain and the increasing number of people leaving their homes explain the current surge. She said the high mobility rate may also indicate why more young people are getting infected in the current wave: They are the ones exposing themselves by leaving their homes for work and leisure. Mobility rates for older people have been lower during the pandemic.

This is what I dread. We’re taking a cautious approach at my university — some easing of restrictions, but I’m still going to be doing online teaching primarily next Fall — and I want this over. But it’s not over yet, and too many people are acting as if it is, which will only make it worse. As Margaret Sullivan puts it, Tucker Carlson’s latest idiocy on masks is dangerous and hypocritical even by his usual standards. It’s going to kill people. It’s going to empower more lunatics. And yet Fox News blithely encourages him.

Watch the spectacle of a petulant, gibbering liar straining to fuel the outrage that keeps him on the air, if you can stomach it.