Categories
nerd politics

Daring Fireball: Fleets, We Hardly Knew Ye

Daring Fireball: Fleets, We Hardly Knew Ye started with…

I’ll resist dunking on Twitter for this, because I think it’s better for Twitter to try more new ideas — even if many wind up abandoned — than to find itself paralyzed by indecision over how to evolve the platform.

…and pivoted to…

Fear of letting the other side achieve its goals when they’re in the majority has resulted in a legislature that can barely pass anything — and that hasn’t worked out well.

I really appreciate how John took an observation about Twitter’s rightful abandonment of “fleets” and turned into a conversation about the filibuster.

The filibuster is a bad idea. It’s OK to kill it and move on.

Categories
culture politics

More News Isn’t Good News

Several weeks ago I signed up for journalist Dan Rather's free mailing list (there is a paid version too). As a recovering journalist, something he wrote recently touched on a topic I often consider; the endless and ever-expanding explosion of news content.

For all the outlets, all the niches, all the competition, what does this change do for how we are getting our news? And how is it changing? Are we better informed? Hearing from more diverse voices? More overwhelmed? More distracted? More confused? How do each of you sort through the news? What sources do you turn to? These are the questions on which I would love to hear your feedback.

That's a lot to unpack. During my childhood, before I cared for such things, news came from three TV stations sharing updates at 6 and 11 p.m. There were two daily metro newspapers (the liberal Free Press in the morning followed by the more conservative Times in the afternoon).

My gut tells me that while the number of crimes and violent acts has increased since the 1970s, the percentage of criminals relative to a larger population isn't much greater today. Our generation's curse is seeing all of the news from everwhere. The growth of the internet and 24-hour cable news networks has transformed what used to be local drama into national tragedies. Any freakish thing that happens has the potential to become headline news around the world.

I have to answer "Yes!" to Dan's questions about being overwhelmed and distracted. There is so much more than local news reported on our TVs and other media.

Dan continued with a broad question. Has your news consumption changed with the new presidency?

Feel free to respond in any way you wish, but I would like to specifically ask if your news consumption has changed with the new presidential administration. Do you read or watch less news? More? Different sources? More or less on social media? Look for more news that isn’t about politics?

Again, "Yes!"

During the five years of the Trump era I felt it was a civic duty to tune into the news if only to see how he had harmed America during the night. I rarely watch the news now because that fear is no longer stuck in my brain. I sleep better knowing our president is focused on governance, not Twitter statistics and adolescent social media clout.

Categories
life politics

2020 is Dead, Long Live 2021

History will remember the obvious horrors of 2020 including, hopefully, Trump’s reign of lunatic terror, pathological narcissm, and denial. It’s up to people like me and you to remember the effects of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Bad News First

I personally know people who suffered or died from a virus that could have been limited if our Republican-majority government hadn’t embraced conspiracy theories or deafening silence.

Hindsight is blind in matters such as these, but I believe many or most of the more than 300,000 dead could be alive today if, beginning in January, Trump and his defenders had led by proper example to encourage the obvious needs for social distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing.

Instead, they discouraged these simple activities, hosted super spreader events, promises from the president that the disease would simply go away like a miracle. They wrapped up the year with a series of indoor holiday parties. The fallout from these gathering has yet to be seen, but based on a year of observation it can be nothing but bad.

Their lack of leadership led to most of the other bad news of 2020.

Businesses suffered. Those that are still afloat continue to struggle to keep their doors open. Those who weren’t so lucky closed their doors for good. Those of us who have appropriately hunkered down won’t know the full impact until we finally try to go to one of our favorite places only to find the lights off and the doors locked.

People lost their jobs. More than 70 million have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic.

Politics with Trump leading the party in power have divided the country more than I have ever seen in my lifetime. Republican supporters gave a tacit boost to white supremacism fueling disputes about whether Black Lives Matter (They do!). Police did terrible things and murdered innocent people. Our so-called law and order president pardoned his partners in crime (several of whom pleaded guilty to the crimes for which they were charged) and literal war criminals who were convicted and imprisoned for murdering unarmed civilians in Iraq.

Now, the Good News

They say you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit, and it’s hard to find good news in such a terrible year, but we have to work with the ingredients we have.

As an introvert, staying home hasn’t been so bad. My wife has worked from home since 2019 and I began working from home in January. Social distancing hasn’t been much of a problem for us and honestly we don’t like strangers. As for our friends, we miss them dearly and can’t wait until we can safely see them again in 2021.

We’re grandparents! For reasons of operational security I’m not giving out a lot of details. Just know that one beautiful boy is already here with one of our daughters and another is on the way with one of our sons. I’m not a huge fan of phone calls, much less FaceTime, but it has been a blessing to help us see our first grandson grow up from more than 300 miles away during his first weeks.1

Sometimes I need a strong push to complete home goals and my wife finally nudged me enough to help her build out our library/bar downstairs and it has become our safe space. It’s even furnished with gently used furniture from the best bar in Chattanooga. The tragedies of 2020 don’t weigh so heavy on us while we’re in our sanctuary reading, listening to good music, and enjoying high-quality adult beverages.

Looking Forward to 2021

As of today, December 26, 2020, Trump still refuses to concede the election he lost to Joe Biden. To recap, the loser Trump fell by a margin of more than 7 million ballots in the popular vote. That lead to landslide electoral loss for Trump (and a landslide victory for Biden) of 306–232.

Like our second grandchild, vaccines are on the way. In fact, the shots are already being administered to those on the front lines who need them most. Unfortunately, normal people like me are way down the list and I don’t expect to be eligible for the vaccine until summer 2021. Even so, it’s good to have hope again.


  1. We did manage to squeeze in one visit during his first week before pandemic numbers got horrible again 
Categories
culture politics

What Happened to Being Kind?

During a communications conference I attended years ago, two comedians leading a session about improv introduced the concept of “Yes, and….” They explained it was always easier to take someone else’s idea and build on it in a positive way. Choosing “No, but…” is a negative path, they said, and can quickly suck the joy out of improvisation. Some of the time, it could even make the participants and audience angry instead of happy.

Nobody wants that. Right?

This could be interpreted as choosing to be kind to others instead of mean. We seem to have taken a dark turn from a “Yes, and…” world to a “No, but…” society. Wearing masks for our collective health is one example. It seems like it would be easy to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person would say, “Yes, and I am wearing my mask to protect you, too.”

That isn’t how it seems to be going though. We have chosen to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person on a darker path says, “No, I’m not going to wear a mask even if it kills you, me, my family, or anyone else around me.”

They say it’s a violation of personal liberty, a violation of their right to choose.1 The way I see it, that is akin to walking around slapping strangers. We are living through a pandemic and their right to choose ends when it begins to harm others. Their so-called liberty shouldn’t impede my right to live free of sickness.

If we’re going to make it through this pandemic together, society needs Love in the Time of COVID2. We’re really in trouble if we can’t remember how to be kind to one another.


  1. Ironic, given the stance on abortion of most mask deniers. 
  2. You probably have some time on your hands. Go read something by Gabriel García Márquez. 
Categories
culture politics

Consider the Ouroboros

Scanning the audience who attend Trump's rallies, less-educated white voters seem to comprise his base. Could this lead to a political ouroboros of voters? An electorate that doesn't appear to understand their unrequited affinity for the president leads them on a doomed downward spiral as his economic policies swallow them whole to benefit the rich?

Consider this tweet from @KBAnderson.

The party of less-educated whites is devoted to making economic life worse for the less-educated.

The “pro-life” party has caused 100,000 unnecessary deaths.

The supposed party of Christian honor is the party of utter cynicism.

They can’t be shamed. They must be vanquished.

Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please make sure you are registered and pleases go vote.

Categories
life politics video

Orson Welles Commentaries on Isaac Wood

Orson Welles Commentaries – Isaac Woodard Jr.:

Orson Wells aired a powerful series of commentary broadcasts on ABC Radio from September 1945 through October 1946. Five of those episodes, which were dedicated to homebound veteran Isaac Woodard Jr., kicked off on July 28, 1946, with the reading of an affidavit that detailed the blinding of that soldier by an officer.

All five commentaries are provided in this YouTube playlist collected by @italkyoubored, who also wrote a companion article on his blog. Here is the first, the reading of the affidavit followed by Wells’ thoughts and insight.

Yesterday, another black man was shot at least seven times by an officer for the crime of breaking up a fight. Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wis., while entering his car where his three children waited. They watched as their father was gunned down by police for the crime of helping others put down their fists and stop hurting one another. According to the latest reports he survived, although the 29-year-old is now paralyzed.

America has come so far, but we still have so far to go.

Categories
life politics

My Plea to 2021 Democrats

Anyone would benefit from this advice

I hope members of the Democratic Party will keep a few things in mind after they retake control of whatever remains of our great American Republic.

  • Don’t take on a holier-than-thou attitude. Never talk down to people. It makes you the lesser person.
  • Don’t talk over people. It’s rude and makes you a bully.
  • Don’t let people talk over you. Don’t let bullies run over you.
  • Listen more than you talk. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Allocate your resources appropriately.
  • Make good trouble. John Lewis, may he rest in peace, deserves for all of us to surge forward on his mission to gain true equality for all.
Categories
culture politics

COVID-19 and the American Idiot

Watching the row of men toting long guns, marching shoulder-to-shoulder toward the capitol, sent a bead of cold sweat rolling down my back to meet the shivers crawling up my spine.

This isn’t the opening of a new novella about the Civil War. It’s my recollection of watching spoiled middle-aged men threaten the government of Michigan because they are temporarily inconvenienced by those who would keep them safe and healthy. The world is in crisis from covid-19.

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alienation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
—Green Day, American Idiot

Watching strangers die while the disillusioned fight for their right to die (and ultimately, for their right to kill others) is difficult, but hearing people I actually know personally who refuse to take the global pandemic seriously; well, it’s painful. You don’t have to be an epidemiologist to know something is wrong, and something is very wrong in America right now. Our nation is sick and those who want to help the nation heal are outnumbered by those who want to get a haircut in a crowded barbershop before busting through a line of diners to hit the buffet.

My wife Julie and I are lucky. We are perfectly matched to prefer each other’s company to the company of others. Both of us work at home and have much of our needs delivered.

On that note, we are thankful for those who deliver mail and goods to our house. We’re thankful for the police and firefighters and garbage collectors and everyone who is essential to keeping things moving. On the flip side, we watch these deluded masses, these protesters, these American idiots, with a growing resentment. Despite their saber-rattling claims of protecting their rights, these are no patriots.

One cannot discuss a void of patriotism without mentioning Donald Trump. He didn’t create the virus, but he ignored it. No amount of gobbledygook and political double-speak can delete his earlier statements and those of his comrades at Fox News. I’m not going to do the digging for you, but there are examples aplenty of their downplaying of the virus. Calling it a hoax and making asinine statements about having only 15 cases in the US, soon to be zero.

The strongest thing Trump did was call for a partial ban on travel focused on China. He then proceeded to invest nothing with the borrowed time. Some businessman, huh?


Here for your entertainment: Green Day!

Categories
life politics

Leadership

Queen tells UK “we will succeed” against Coronavirus in rare address to the nation:

Calm. Supportive. Encouraging. Hopeful. None of these words describe our lunatic president. If only a leader was here to provide such a message in the United States.

Categories
politics

Quarantined Italians record messages for "themself from 10 days ago" during Coronavirus pandemic – YouTube

Quarantined Italians record messages for “themself from 10 days ago” during Coronavirus pandemic – YouTube:

Italians send video messages to their past selves. These could also be messages to our present selves in the U.S.
I hope we listen.