Politics, culture wars and all that

I’d like to give a prediction about the upcoming midterms but..well, cannot. For one, the abortion rights issue could be a game changer, and yes, the President’s party often loses seats, many of the losses come from Congressional Districts where the incumbent party overperformed in the Presidential Election due to coat-tails…and we didn’t see coat-tails in 2020.

It is as if the old models might not be relevant.

And, contrary to popular opinion, Biden has not done that bad:

Still, I tend to agree with this:

But the culture stuff might end up killing us. Observe:

Now, the NPR listeners/UU Church/Liberal Arts crowd are saying how she just “OWNED” or “Schooled” Sen. Hawley. But to the average voter who isn’t immersed in that lingo….her answers sounded..ridiculous.

Yes, of course, Sen. Hawley was playing politics with his “simple question”; I am not naive enough to think he was asking in good faith. He WANTED to pick that fight for the cameras.

And what a better foil than a Berkeley prof with nose rings…

On a college campus, “calling out” someone as being “transphobic..etc.” wins you points, but it flops in the public.

You see something different going on here:

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was going up the Capitol steps when a professional provocateur (a real jerk) decided to make remarks about her behind (and throw in an anti-choice remark).

He posted the video but it was taken down from Twitter. But I saw it because ….the Representative POSTED IT HERSELF!!!!!!!

Why would she do that?????

Then she posted this:

In the second video, she appears rattled but didn’t appear so in the first. Given that she was not exactly sheltered in her previous life…my guess is that she is scoring points with the “me too” crowd. But it does make her look easily rattled..I’d imagine a leader quality woman just saying “oh, grow up” to the professional jerk.

But, here I am talking about this sort of stuff when there are more serious things to ponder:

That is huge; there is a negative impact in the lives of women. And there is this:

I support BLM, but yes, sometimes the armed person in a standoff who was trying to kill/had killed others is a black guy. This in no way negatives that black guys are sometimes unfairly profiled or treated poorly.

But not every police shooting should be an incident to be hijacked by “activists” with an agenda.

Unhelpful Pedantry in discourse

Disclaimer: I teach math (and occasionally do math) for a living. I understand the necessity of precise language in certain situations. When it comes to, say, a mathematical theorem, meeting the hypothesis matters!

But when it comes to discussing the issues of the day, being inappropriately pedantic gets in the way.

One big example is the issue of “assault guns” in the hands of civilians. Sometimes, hard core 2’nd Amendment supporters chide liberal gun control advocates for “not knowing what an assault weapon is” or even claiming that “assault weapon” is a meaningless term.

Let’s be clear: though most who have a strong opinion on this issue is NOT a firearms expert, what is meant here is a weapon that

  1. Fires a military grade round at a military grade muzzle velocity
  2. Has a magazine that can hold multiple rounds
  3. Can fire multiple shots very quickly (not automatically) without jamming
  4. Is semiautomatic (self loading, though the trigger has to be pressed for each shot)

And yes, I know; the better known weapons (AR-15, AK-47) are examples of this kind of weapon, but are far from the only kinds out there.

They gun people know these things; one survivalist put it this way: (paraphrasing as I lost track of the book): if you have supplies like food and water, others might try to take them from you. What do you defend yourself with? Using a sporting rifle against well armed intruders is just noisy suicide.
(not my thoughts, but I cannot find the reference)

Well, the rifle that you’d want in such extreme conditions (that you can legally obtain sans a lot of extra hoops to jump through) is what we’d call an “assault rifle.”

People like me do not believe that civilians should have possession of weapons which are military caliber weapons without the automatic setting. These are for killing people effectively (or causing horrific wounds).

Jerry Coyne’s blog has a nice post on this topic.

Note: this issue is one where we have to start from where we are (our country has a LOT of these type of weapons) and we are very divided. I don’t see how a ban could work. And if you think that we have any prayer of repealing the Second Amendment, you are delusional :

Sure..we can’t even get 50 Senate votes…LOL.

I hesitate to point out that it isn’t just the conservatives that are guilty of this.

Think of Critical Race Theory and K-12 education. Technically, CRT is really a law school caliber theory to help lawyers and judges apply the law more fairly. So, no, you aren’t getting CRT in grade school.

But that is NOT what is meant when parents complain about CRT.

As Yascha Mounk writes:

The idea that critical race theory is an academic concept that is taught only at colleges or law schools might be technically accurate, but the reality on the ground is a good deal more complicated. Few middle or high schoolers are poring over academic articles written by Richard Delgado or Kimberlé Crenshaw. But across the nation, many teachers have, over the past years, begun to adopt a pedagogical program that owes its inspiration to ideas that are very fashionable on the academic left, and that go well beyond telling students about America’s copious historical sins.

In some elementary and middle schools, students are now being asked to place themselves on a scale of privilege based on such attributes as their skin color. History lessons in some high schools teach that racism is not just a persistent reality but the defining feature of America. And some school systems have even embraced ideas that spread pernicious prejudices about nonwhite people, as when a presentation to principals of New York City public schools denounced virtues such as “perfectionism” or the “worship of the written word” as elements of “white-supremacy culture.”

And parents ARE concerned and have a right to be. In my own state, a school received attention because it decided to stop “giving 0’s in the gradebook” for work not turned in because they felt that such a standard is unfair to minority students. (Note: the article I linked to has a very misleading headline: there are NOT race based standards; the standard would apply to all students in said school).

I am old enough to remember the segregation/integration wars, and I remember one argument that segregationists used was that integration would lead to an erosion of standards.

I am NOT saying that the liberal wokes are the same as the racists; they are NOT. But some of their policy prescriptions sure reminds me of stuff the racists used to say (disclaimer: I am Latino and I am sensitive to accusations that whatever success I have had was due to my meeting a lower standard).

My point: dismissing the concerns of parents by saying “LOL..your kid isn’t learning CRT” is to miss the point. It hurts dialogue and..on a political level, hurts Democrats.

Bonus topic

Yes, I’ve frequently been more critical of Democrats than Republicans for the following reason: I’ve voted Democrats for years. The current Republicans are the party of COVID denial..the party of taking deworm medicine for COVID..the party of climate change denial..the party of eroding voting rights. I want nothing to do with modern Republicans; there are no Romney/Bush/Rockerfeller/McCain types that I’d consider voting for (at the national level)

They are the party of this type of insanity:

So, I want Democrats to win, even if I can’t stand some of the social stuff they do. But my goodness, too many Democrats campaign as if they are trying to win over NPR listeners, college professors and Unitarians.

Some thoughts on this topic: Bill Maher asks Democrats to dial back on appealing to our extreme factions:

More along these line…

Satirical Accounts: why I like them

I admit that I enjoy certain types of satire accounts.

My favorite is an academic one; one that openly lampoons the absurd aspects of higher education:

She has 121.2 K followers. Her posts are often met with “you MUST be at our university”; her posts are just so on point.

I like Titania McGrath who makes fun of excessive wokeness: (this thread is hilarious)

“She” has 710.8 K followers.

Here is one that lampoons conservatives of a certain type:

Walter has 142 K followers.

And there is a way followers react to his post: we copy his diction and themes …and for the offended liberal that doesn’t get the joke but reacts with umbrage: we call that “being Waltered.”

Then there is 3yearletterman:

Hey plays the part of an ignorant person who peaked in high school and boasts about mundane things (“I have a 4 figure checking account” “so many youth football championship rings that I cannot turn door handles”)

But the best part: he spouts absolutely ridiculous gibberish…and sometimes even a genuine celebrity will play along! (e. g. Jim Palmer, former Oriole pitching great).

But the best part is when some clueless, sanctimonious scold will come in to tell us what a bunch of idiots we are…that is when we pounce with “bet you don’t have a reserved table at Beef O’Brady’s” etc. (these are things that “Coach” routinely brags about)

Sometimes, they eventually get the joke. But it is hilarious when they don’t; it is kind of fun to watch the sanctimonious know-it-alls work themselves into a froth over what should have been obvious to see.

He has 301K followers. And he has been quoted by Newsweek! (who eventually realized their error)

Social and political rants and quips

Yes, COVID is back; yes, that is hospitalizations too. The rates are still much lower than what they once were but they are creeping up again. This time: few care. Yes, I am masking up when indoors around others but I am one of the tiny percentage that still does so.

Curiously, people see me masked and tend to give me a wide berth …no ridicule as yet.

Social/Political: I find the discourse to be amusing.

And I think Republicans understand this better than Democrats do: Hence, our inability to communicate effectively with voters.

As bad as Republicans are on policy, they will annihilate us on things like this:

Republican ad: “Democrats think that men have babies. Can you trust them on important issues?” D’s will respond either by screaming “transphobia” or with a power point science lecture about gender dysphoria and how someone can have a vagina and a uterus but have “male” characteristics in other ways.

But..Republicans have Q-anon and other things, right? But there are two huge differences:

  1. The Republican party is more homogeneous; they have the wealthy and the white working class..quickly adding working classes of other ethnic groups.
  2. The Republican crazy is kind of out there (until abortion..ok..that deserves its own post). Democrat “crazy” appears to affect daily life more closely: “Defund the Police => less safety”. “Transwomen ARE the same as genetic women” => your daughter has to compete in sports against genetic males. “Wokeness” => dreary, insulting “Diversity and inclusion training” and 40 pronouns.

What Republicans can get away with is not what we can get away with.

I know people don’t like Bill Maher but:

Are liberals interested in winning elections or winning in policy?

A few things struck me. One was the protests outside of SCOTUS justices homes. If you read the opinion article I linked to, you’ll find a common theme: their expecting ruling is so awful they deserve this.

There have been marches, other protests and slogans such as “My Body, My Choice.” Such slogans really do not convince..even if I agree with them.

This is a bit of a digression but here goes: the anti-choice people see abortion as the murder of a baby. To them, it is the same (so they say) as if you took a 1 month newborn and just killed it. And this is why “oh, so you don’t care about the baby after it is born” responses fail to convince. One can believe that murdering a 1 month old baby is murder but still believe that it is up to the PARENTS to care for that baby; that is not inconsistent.

Dakwins argues that the counter would be to challenge the assumption that a fetus is the same as a kid; of course it isn’t. After all, in a fire, would you prioritize saving a new born or some frozen embryos? Easy choice.

But that was a digression…

And the other main point is that many liberals really don’t care about how “the other side sees it.”

And that leads to the second:

To this I say “Me too.” No, there is no danger of me moving to the Republicans..at least so long as they remain a loony anti-democracy xenophobic cult.

But..read the responses to the above tweet. Smith is accused of being a conservative, not sufficiently caring about problems that affect him, etc.

This response I got might be telling:

Note: I was NOT the person who was put off by “pussy hats”; Smith was. I saw the hats as …”eye roll” material but merely shrugged…”that event was not for me” though I did think that stunt opened them up to even more ridicule and made them the butt of jokes..

But Twitter threads can be hard to follow, so I don’t blame her for that. The part I am interested in is the “we. don’t. fucking. want. you.”

That is telling.

There was a time when I saw things like the massive BLM protests which disregarded COVID protocols (and yeah, outdoors later proved to be ok) and were *sometimes* accompanied by riots, looting and violence, and I seriously believe that they contributed to the dismal showing by Democrats in the 2020 elections. The “defund the police” movement was especially bad. The country rejected Trump but didn’t want Democrats either.

And further still…well, with abortion, the “pro-choice caucus” is passing out approved language sheets

I really wonder if they actually tested said language changes on voters. This sure reminds me of the sorts of decisions “activist” faculty make..and I know most don’t test first.

So…I’ve wondered “why do these “activists” care so little about persuasion?” Yes, the hard core right wingers cannot be changed, but there are some far less committed people who observe the exchanges…and often we do NOT have a good look.

Then it struck me:

many liberals really aren’t about winning political battles or even winning policy changes. They are more about being an affinity group and getting praise from those in their own bubble.

So, the more outraged you are, the louder you scream, the more outlandish antics you engage in…the more credibility you have with your peers.

And if you lose at the ballot box, why it was because of the rest of the country of Homer Simpson’s are too crude, too immoral, too bigoted and not “intellectual” enough to appreciate you and “your side”.

I swear..they appear to see losing as a badge of honor and purity.

How this affects me I’ll tell you this: I am starting to think about candidates to succeed Cheri Bustos in the IL-17 district; right now, the race is rated as a toss-up. I won’t look at positions too closely; I’ll see “political skill and the ability to win the general” as the most important thing, by far.

How wokeness hurts liberals

This was painful to watch:

So, why would she say something so outrageously false? (no, it is nowhere near 365 a year)

If you are unfamiliar with academia: people are divided up into demographic groups (black women, white men, etc.) and are said to have a different degree of “privilege.” So, when it comes to “conversation” (or what passes for conversation) it is considered bad form for a “privileged” person to fact check, question or attempt to rebut the point made by a non-privileged person. Such acts are deemed “microagressions” or worse; you get accused of “tone policing”, “mansplaining”, “whitesplaining” or whatever.

But outside of the Academy…people “don’t play that.”

And, well, let’s face it: we learn and we grow when we correct our mistakes and become more careful in our speech.

Now, before you go “what about how they enabled Trump, etc.” Yes: there is a reason I won’t consider becoming a Republican in this era.

I want liberals and Democrats to do well…but I am afraid that the “don’t challenge anything that a member of a protected class says” is hurting us politically.

On being taken seriously, etc.

I waded into a couple of somewhat heated discussions on Twitter.

One involved Steven Pinker, who, while loved by many, is absolutely despised by many of the Twitter woke.

I was amused; someone referred him to as a pop-writer and I reminded him that Pinker is in the National Academy of Science…(he is: linguistics) and stated that he was far more accomplished and smarter than the vast majority of his critics.

OMG, was there some butthurt!!! I love it.

Sure, Pinker often writes pop stuff over things not in his area, just like Paul Krugman does. And I am sure that some of it (at least) is an over simplification and he probably gets some things wrong, or at least gives a misleading impression.

And yes, some very smart people ..even Nobel Laureates in physics…have gone full crackpot. So the probability that some of his mediocre (or worse) critics are right and he is wrong is non-zero. But I know which way I’d bet.

And, IMHO, that is just reality.

I see an issue that I don’t know much about. On one hand, this proven smart guy, who is outside his specialty, makes a case saying “it is probably this way”..and some nobody says he is wrong.

I don’t have access to a CV..and unless I see the critic has at least some respect in said area, I am not going to take them seriously. …no more than I’d take “COVID is an overblown hoax” nonsense seriously.

Deeply gross?? What is “deeply gross” is how people want to be taken seriously when they’ve given no objective reason to do so.

Oh well…

The other issue was this one:

I had pointed out that in some cultures it is extra polite to take on a “sir, Madame”, etc. and of course the loudmouths threw a fit.

It is no skin off of my nose; I was merely pointing out that this could be awkward, but the noisy were not having any of it.

In my honest opinion, IF your goal is to win more acceptance into the broader community, you probably aren’t in a position to DEMAND it or to order everyone to bend to you..and your saying something doesn’t make it correct.

And speaking of Chappelle:

Streisand effect: Dave Chappelle threw shade at Hannah Gadsby so I decided to watch one of her specials on Netflix. I was expecting to be OUTRAGED. Instead I nodded off and fell asleep. Woke up, watched a short Bill Maher clip from a recent show and laughed so loudly that B wanted to know what was up (it was “woke Halloween Movies”; clip is elsewhere on my wall. I am not saying Gadsby was incompetent; her stage presence and delivery were pretty good. And some of her stuff was funny (her joke about making fun of Americans was “still punching up, but perhaps for not much longer”..But for me, the best “thought comedy” is the stuff where they say something that perhaps you thought of or felt but hadn’t put into words….even if the feelings aren’t the most noble ones.

Now, I would NOT say that Gadsby “wasn’t funny” but I would say that her humor really isn’t designed for me. There are all sorts of instances of that: sports specific jokes, discipline specific jokes, etc.

Another asymmetry

The clip is mostly asking Democrats to “dial it back.” Yes, he acknowledges the rage from the right wing is more shrill and more intense.

But there is something. The block of rabid, right wing MAGAs is, frankly, larger than any block the Democrats have. And it seems that much that comes from liberals (at least on social media) is “oh, you believe this…I HATE YOU…don’t you KNOW how BAD I HATE you!!!” and that is supposed to convince someone.

If you are in a tiny minority…no matter how righteous your cause is (or you THINK it is), rage will not change anyone’s mind. It is the wrong game plan, FOR US.

Maher goes on to note how it is NOT about “the issues.”

You can’t win over people who HATE YOU…and we seem to seek out such hate. There is an asymmetry here.

Now about the “National Divorce”: I want one. But I don’t want 2 countries. I want THREE. I don’t want MAGA-land (and their insistence that COVID is a hoax, or overblown…denial of science). I don’t want woke-a-stan either where even BRIDGE OPERATORS (they make a draw bridge go up and down) have to pursue equity and social justice

and any semblance of merit is called “white supremacy” and sex is a social construct. I don’t want the police abolished.

I want a third country which has a mix of people who can at least agree on some kernel of reality and have arguments/discussions on how to proceed from there.

Random rants and raves


The I-74 bridge looks cool. Yoga today was a lot of lower back stuff and the walk…was probably about 3.3 but I didn’t start the watch until I was .25 into it (by mistake). Took breaks at 1, 2, and 2.6 miles to stretch it out.
Averaged 14:52 (outside walking is slower, and today was windy). Not super, but much better than Tuesday.

Now for general rants

Wokeness: this is a classic example. Yes, I know: these are college undergraduates, but unfortunately, the rest of us on the “left of center” are tarred by such antics (in this case, some students are upset that genetic males will be doing radiator repair and they want a “safe space” from genetic males.

Oh I know..they are saying “cis-males” which is a biological male that identifies that way.

I honestly think that colleges are doing their undergraduates a huge disscervice by not standing up to them. In the real world, these complaints would be considered ridiculous.

And that brings me to my second rant: it seems that many on the left see tantrum throwing as an agent of change. Yes, it might work on a college campus, but that is a very limited bubble.

In reality, the world is not going to rearrange itself to meet what you think your experience should be.

Oops, dinner calls.

Humility …

I wasted too much time in an often heated discussion (described somewhat in my previous post). It turns out that I waded into a grievance festival but there were some, ok, several, who engaged me in a thoughtful, respectful way.

Others just wanted to yell.

One said this was me…and…well..I did see myself in the sea lion.

If I decide to comment on such a thread again, I’ll ask a question: why do you find this objectionable when this similar word is in common use?

Or I’ll seek out and find better people to follow.

What I did learn, or relearn, is that priors matter. I live in a community that values athletic achievement and YOU BEAST is high praise and is often extended when one makes a big lift, runs a fast time, etc. I also follow women’s sports and yes, even the women lifters like praise when they’ve made a big lift.

Now about my “beast mode” (LOL) workout.

I started too late but did pull ups (4 sets of 10, 2 sets of 5 chins), 3 sets of 20 push ups with better range of motion, 3 sets of curls and 3 sets of rows. It wasn’t too bad and I actually did better on the pull ups.

Then came the PT and that was encouraging (new “hot spot” on the glute medius) and some very humbling exercises; including one I can’t do properly (I have to “cheat” by rotating my body.

New (to me) Rehab:

Perturbation training (with me: applied to spinal balance)

These were cool too:

I cannot do these properly as yet:

At the end, she shows what I am doing wrong.

Update: NO SHOULDER PAIN last night!