National Divorce and other topics

This post at Jerry Coyne’s website got me thinking.

So, what about it? I’ll look at it from a liberal perspective.

Now think about the liberal paradise countries: Norway has about 5 million people, Sweden 10.4 million, and Denmark about 5.9 million.

In comparison, New York City as 8.6 million, Los Angeles 4.0 million. The associated metro areas: 19.8 million, 13 million; Chicago metro area has about 9.5 million.

The point: you really can’t compare the US to these tiny countries ..and maybe the though is that the population of the US would do better if WE were divided into several bite sized countries.

Think about it: our geographic diversity is astonishing. We have hot deserts, tundra, cold, windy plains, both warm and cold coastal areas, mountains, hills, forest areas, grasslands, swamps, rocky areas. Then add cultural diversity into the mix.

But then again, our major divide seems to be rural vs urban; for example, I probably have more in common with Austin, Texas people than I do with downstate Illinois people, or even Peoria people (we are a purple county). But due to its large amount of rural and medium towns, Texas remains a red state. Illinois remains a blue state, in large part due to the Democratic presence in the Chicago area.

The logistics of such a split up are staggering.

So what to do?

For one, it might help to start to acknowledge the truth about “the other.”

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen nonsense like this, confidently spread by someone with a “Doctor” or “Ph. D” in their handle:

“Great majority?”

What a load of nonsense.

Then, when we think about the issues, it wouldn’t hurt to see exactly what the “rank and file” are complaining about.

For example: “drag shows”. This is what they are complaining about:

Yeah, I know; some of the proposed state laws go to far. But should things like the above be a SCHOOL activity? Come on.

But…well, to even admit that “the other” might be right about something, or even have a valid point..or even have a point worth considering…well…that will cost you “friends” on your side, at least online.

The atmosphere is a very toxic “concede nothing” even when “the other” has the facts. And that isn’t helping.

Unpleasant people agreeing with you doesn’t make you wrong

One of the toughest things about our current political debates is that, from time to time, people that I don’t like are right about an issue or two.

Example: remember when George Floyd was murdered by police (and yes, he was). Well, we are now seeing him lionized among some. Yes, he was murdered, and the police were correctly brought to justice. But he was not one to emulate; he had a modest criminal record and no exemplary achievements. And yes, some unpleasant people agree with me.

“Hispanics don’t champion their criminals!” (Ann Coulter; see the above).

Sports: I believe sports are segregated by sex for fairness reasons. So, at least beyond a certain grade level, I do not condone biological males, no matter how they identify, competing against biological females in female divisions.
And, unfortunately, many antitrans bigots take the same view. I want nothing to do with them.

The same goes for things like “drag shows for kids”, especially when tied to school (what a parent takes their kid to outside of school is their own business)

But taking this stance puts me on the same side as morons like this:

Something similar is true with Joey Swoll calling out women for making false (or unlikely) “gym creep” claims on social media. Swoll is right even though some unpleasant people are backing his efforts.

The same was true during the immigration debates; I am a “play by the rules” sort of guy, but that put me on the same side as some genuine bigots.

Shared public spaces and the lack of nuance online

I used to go to gyms frequently; now I have my own stuff. I sometimes had issues (usually when a gym goer tried to tie up several pieces of equipment while doing “super sets”) but for the most part, it was fine.

There is a recent account that calls out toxic gym are a few examples:

And his videos have been welcomed by many, including me. guessed it…his work has been co-opted into the broader culture wars:

Example of some of the pushback can be found here. And this is frustrating.

On one hand, *some* of his stuff has been picked up by social conservatives.


And some liberals decry this..they claim that Swoll’s work gives some men permission to be misogynistic.

And this is why online discussion of sensitive topics is becoming increasingly worthless.

In a shared space, there will be looking at each other; there will be glances. And a glance is not the same as a prolonged stare.

But some liberals divide the world into “privileged” vs “not privileged” and if you are in the not-privileged category, your feelings rule; others must acquiesce to them. If a woman says she “feels uncomfortable” because of a quick glace, the man is in the wrong.

But any shared space has to have some sort of reasonableness standard to work.

You see these “reasonableness standards” debates all the time at any public place: how much standing is ok at a ball game, cell phone use in public areas, when is filming in a public place ok, behavior of kids in a public area (some just let their kids run amok), dogs (leashed vs unleashed), movie theater behavior, etc.

And I admit that, increasingly, my solution is to avoid public spaces more and more, though I still go to live sporting events. (note: I pay a premium to sit in first row worries about standing there).

But..what about the teachers?

In the dark days of the COVID pandemic, especially when we were flying blind about exactly what we were up against, I was very angry with those who seemed to discount the health of the teachers WRT “in person vs online” school.

We had the situation of overcrowded classrooms, poorly ventilated school buildings and parents who weren’t exactly to keep covid positive kids at home. And most of the discussion was about “the kids” (oh, the kids will be fine) and very little about the teachers and other staff. Note: I know it was more nuanced than that..remember that the schools were understaffed to begin with and there was a dearth of substitutes.

Well, now we have the problem of violence in schools, and in particular, violence against teachers. Example:

So, the discussion now revolves around…the minor in question? (what sort of criminal charges, if any…expulsion, etc.

But..what about the teachers? We walk about “the kids”, but what about the teachers? Would YOU want to work in such an environment? I wouldn’t.

Teacher welfare and safety have to be a major part of conversation. Teachers are not disposable robots.

Frito Bandito, activism and alienation

Seeing this reminded me ..

Yes, I had one of these; if I remember correctly, you could sent out for it.

This character was popular some time ago:

Clearly, tongue-in-cheek, right?

Well, activists complained and Frito-Lay did away with the Bandito.

Background: I am Mexican-American from both parents; I refer to myself as Latino. My mom learned to speak English in her teens; she grew up speaking Spanish. This is relevant.

When it came out that complaints from activists pressured Frito Lay into dropping the FB, my mom said something to the effect: “Idiots. Don’t they have better things to do? I thought the Bandito was funny!”

And so it goes: though you might think my mom was unique, she really wasn’t. There appears to be a gap between what the “activist” class thinks and what the rest of us think. Consider the issue of the word “Latinx”. Most Latinos haven’t heard of it, and most who have do not like it.

So, when people point out that there is a gap between what the loud, often academic “activists” think and what the rest of us think, the activists seem to think that the rest of us are “colonialized” or ignorant, or unaware, etc. Yes, activists, I’ve heard your arguments and I rejected many of them.

But that is not the main point of this post.

The main point of this post is that Democratic politicians who want Latino support but are unfamiliar with us tend to, you guessed it, turn to “activists” to learn and get advice.

At least as far as the “Latinx” issue, the tide appears to be turning.

But the larger point remains: if you want to court our vote, don’t go by what some woke recent college graduate activist has to say; try to connect with the larger community.

The “national divorce”: why I don’t want it

I remember the dark days of the George W. Bush presidency. Many liberals thought about “succession”; I remember the following:

Yes, I read the book. And there was this (NSFW language)

Well, now, we have a Republican representative talking about a “national divorce.” While some Republican politicians have condemned such sentiments, many Republicans, especially southern ones, support it…as do some west coast Democrats.

Now, aside from the very idea being a mess…after all, the split is really more of an urban vs. rural one…there ARE blue regions in red states and red regions in blue states, ….and some major problems….

I am not sure I’d even want to live in a “liberals rule” area anymore.

At one time, I thought “it would be great to teach science without being yapped at by the creationists. But now…we have the equally moronic “science is white supremacy and patriarchy” crowd. And just look at how low some of the old, formerly good magazines have sunk. I don’t want the daffy leftist extremists in charge either. The new leftist anti-intellectuals would have a great deal of power in a new state.

Talking past each usual.

This cartoon is popular in liberal circles:

But this cartoon convinces no one at all, though it might help liberals feel better about themselves.

The liberal point of view: “well, you’ll force a woman to carry a baby to term, but then put her on her own once it is born.”

But this is unconvincing to conservatives. Here is why:

Suppose you truly believe that abortion is the murder of a baby (I don’t believe this, but many anti-abortion types do…literally)

So, the fetus really is equivalent to a newborn baby.

Now: does ANYONE think it is ok to kill a newborn? (and no, I am not talking about extreme circumstances where the lives of the older living are at stake).

Of course not.

Now, is it inconsistent to believe that:

  1. Babies must not be killed and
  2. PARENTS are responsible for supporting the babies that they make?

I don’t think that is inconsistent at all, and that is the conservative point of view.

You make it, then you have to support it (but cannot kill it). Yes, this includes both the male and female.

Now, we can debate on how much support a society should give to poorer kids and what kind of support, but that is a topic for another day..and frankly it is a difficult one. Ok, I’ll drop my thoughts below (*)

And yes, poor people in the US, on the average, have more kids than wealthier ones.

(*) my thoughts: this represents my thinking, to a degree. But no, I wouldn’t attempt to sell this with “let’s be compassionate.” I’d take a more spreadsheet approach: I’d note that putting money into the bottom of the economy means more small and basic businesses will have more demand which leads to more jobs. I’d argue that kids that are not in grinding poverty turn out better and have more of a chance to escape and break the cycle; society, on the whole, benefits.

Yes, I know, there are always some who make poor choices no matter what, and some of these will benefit from society’s generosity. They ARE infuriating, and no, Dear Sanctimonious Liberal, don’t tell me who to get angry with. I don’t like crony capitalism can dislike BOTH. That isn’t logically inconsistent. solution is perfect, and under “let’s make the bottom benefits more generous”, there are ALWAYS unpleasant, unrepentant morons that will benefit. But overall, I think society benefits.

Cognitive empathy, behavior changes and activism

First a remark about the fiasco in Congress in which it took 15 votes for the Republicans to elect the Speaker of the House:

Lots of memes were made about this:

and I made one too (part of a series where I lampoon my life when I was single)

(side note: her outfit is actually coral (in color) but appears to be bright red due to the lighting)

But I digress…the real purpose of this post is to comment on the antics of so-called “activists”. You know: these are the ones that disrupt things, like those who block traffic:

Or..maybe they stop a university from showing a film that they disapprove of:

Well, the question I have is this: what are these “activists” hoping to accomplish? It appears to me that they have concluded that because their cause is just (and perhaps it is) that it is ok for them to do whatever they want to do.

But, what is their goal in doing said protest? If their goal does not involve getting more supporters on their side and to change behavior and attitudes, then I suppose it is ok, I guess…though there are legal consequences.

But if their goal is to actually change the behavior of others and to change attitudes ..IN THEIR DIRECTION, well, they should probably step back and engage in some empathy..that is, cognitive empathy.


Well, no. In fact, I learned the value of cognitive empathy in sports (football) and in the military! Reason: you will do better if you can see things from your opponent’s point of view. And that is what I mean: if you stop and check out “how will my actions be viewed by others..especially those that I am trying to convince”, you might make better choices. Instead, these morons just turn the public against them.

Goal: change of behavior; two incidents from my past

Case 1: mid 1990’s: our department was discussing candidates. Our chair, long since retired, was an old school, conservative gentleman. And he referred to the male candidates by Dr. X and the female candidates by their first names.

I was a young, untenured professor, and I spoke up: “why are we referring to females by their first names and men by their titles; shouldn’t it be the same for both?” And..well, that just confused the old professor at first, but…*he changed his behavior.* There were no Deans called in, no big to-do, no “mandatory sensitivity training”; no “pound of flesh.”

Case 2: I was taking a class and in a pre-test review class, an international student asked if there would be “coding” on the exam (writing a program). The professor said “no coding” but mimicked the student’s Asian accent.

A student spoke up: “I heard that..that Asian accent”; prof said “no I didn’t” and the student laughed and said “yes, you did.”

It never happened again. Change of behavior. No firing, no Dean, no running the gauntlet; no “pound of flesh.” (this was the late 1990’s).

The goal was attained. I wonder if our cancel culture has lost sight of that.

Note: the professors involved have retired a long time ago.

Strong medicine vs sanctimony

I saw this on Twitter and thought about it:

Disclaimer: I am not a believer but I get the idea about being accepting of groups/demographics that one does not belong to.

But back to the original post: the intent was to cast dispersion at conservatives; to puff up themselves by claiming the moral high ground. And in that setting, this is nothing more than a group attack on another group.

But, if one were to read this to their own group or to themselves, it can be quite powerful.

So doing this exercise: Jesus loves the Confederate flag wavers, the MAGA hat wearers, the flat earth people, the Bible thumpers, the creationist and anti-vax woo woos, as well as the horse paste eaters.

And to make it very personal…well, this is not the time and place to lay out my dark side for those to see, but there are certain qualities that I respect and..let’s just say that I disrespect the lack of said qualities …and “Jesus loves them too.” Tough medicine indeed.

Well done to Sorensen

Mr. Sorensen won a tough fight in the IL-17 district to keep the district in the Democratic column: this was a Trump +1 district that Cheri Bustos had to fight for. He was very strong in the Quad Cities area.

We still don’t know if the Democrats will keep the Senate; it appears likely..somewhat likely. The tight spots: Nevada and the upcoming runoff in Georgia; I think Warnock is favored..slightly. So…wonder where the uncounted votes in Nevada are from?

House: good fight, but a lost cause; we lost a few seats.

Workout notes: shook off the sleepies to do PT, my usual 50 reps of pull ups (3 sets of 10 singles, 4 sets of 5), push ups (4 sets of 25: time to step it up), and PT

deadlifts: 10 x 134, 10 x 184, 10 x 228 low handle

presses: 3 sets of 10 x 94 Swiss bar, 2 sets of 10 curls.

Two mile walk, then two mile commuter walk; walk felt faster than recorded.