Monday Required Reading

1A. QAnon’s ‘Meme Queen’ Marches On. Loneliness is a scourge.

“What attracts Ms. Gilbert and many other people to QAnon isn’t just the content of the conspiracy theory itself. It’s the community and sense of mission it provides. New QAnon believers are invited to chat rooms and group texts, and their posts are showered with likes and retweets. They make friends, and are told that they are not lonely Facebook addicts squinting at zoomed-in paparazzi photos, but patriots gathering “intel” for a righteous revolution.

This social element also means that QAnon followers aren’t likely to be persuaded out of their beliefs with logic and reason alone.”

1B. The Unlikely Connection Between Wellness Influencers and the Pro-Trump Rioters. Sigh.

2. Why Chamberlain Built a $3,000 Automatic Garage Door For Your Dog.

3. The Golf World Hardly Deserves Praise for “Breaking” With Trump. News Alert: Not everyone is impressed by my newly woke sport.

4. He Just Wanted To Play Catch. La ultima feel good story.

“I think people want to reconnect a little bit right now.”

5. Electric Cars Are Better for the Planet – and Often Your Budget, Too.

“The federal government offers a tax credit for some new electric vehicle purchases, but that does nothing to reduce the initial purchase price and does not apply to used cars. That means it disproportionately benefits wealthier Americans. Some states, like California, offer additional incentives. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has pledged to offer rebates that help consumers swap inefficient, old cars for cleaner new ones, and to create 500,000 more electric vehicle charging stations, too.”

All of today’s QAnon reading necessitated at least one President-elect Biden reference. I don’t want any PressingPausers losing touch with reality.

Orwell On ‘Solid Reality’

The perfect addendum to Brook’s essay*. Absent this reminder, liberals may read Brooks and conclude, “Wow, my team is so completely grounded in reality,” thereby succumbing to group narcissism themselves.

“The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

*credit to John Gruber

How Many Have Died?

Like everything else in the (dis)United States, the Covid-19 death toll has been politicized. Many conservatives claim the death totals have been exaggerated by liberals intent on weakening Trump, which recent events prove, he’s fully capable of doing himself.

One of the more conservative newspapers in the country has completed a comprehensive study of the worldwide death toll. Their conclusion:

“To better understand the pandemic’s global toll, the Journal compiled the most recent available data on deaths from all causes from countries with available records. These countries together account for roughly one-quarter of the world’s population but about three-quarters of all reported deaths from Covid-19 through late last year.

The tally found more than 821,000 additional deaths that aren’t accounted for in governments’ official Covid-19 death counts.”

Not the recorded death count of 2 million, 2.8 million. Because it’s the Wall Street Journal, I’m sure the death count deniers’ false claims will cease and we’ll see a corresponding rise in empathy for the deceased and their families.

Monday Required Reading

  1. Three cheers for my ‘oh so woke’ sport.
  2.  Props to this brave, young French woman for agitating for a more frank approach to sexism and gender violence.
  3.  File this under “increasingly relevant”. A new study has found being angry increases your vulnerability to misinformation.
  4. Leah Sotille’s podcast Bundyville is state-of-the-art audio journalism. Along with Kathleen Belew, she’s my go to source on all things domestic terrorism. File her most recent writing, “All Bets Are Off”, under “increasingly relevant”.

‘Getting Along With Others in a Pluralistic Society’ Rule #1

ESPN pro football analyst Booger McFarland was fired up about a promising, highly drafted, second year NFL quarterback getting cut as a result of poor play and mindless “off-the-field” behavior.

Which woulda been okay if McFarland hadn’t tied the player’s problems to African American football players more generally. Predictably, that’s when the shit hit the fan.

The (dis)United States is a wonderfully diverse conglomerate of 331 million individual identities. Does that mean we can never generalize, no, positive generalizations are fine. For example, if I say, “Elementary school teachers do amazing work and deserve, as much, or more respect, than any other group of educators.” I’m not going to get any blowback. It’s sweeping negative assumptions that everyone rightfully resists. No one ever wants to be “guilty by association”.

So here’s Getting Along With Others in a Pluralistic Society Rule #1, refrain from making negative generalizations about any group, even ones of which you are a member. Ask Cosby or McFarland, your insider status will not provide any sort of “benefit of the doubt”.

Andrew Hawkins, NFL alum, takes McFarland to school, literally. Hawkins Wikipedia “personal life” entry includes this sentence, “Hawkins graduated from Columbia University in 2017 with a master’s degree in sports management from the School of Professional Studies with a 4.0 GPA.” No surprise. This is a 4.0 return of serve.

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Let The Ultra-Rich And Influential Skip The Line For Covid-19 Vaccines

“Donations would come from five tiers. For each tier, the mechanism is the same. People (or businesses on behalf of their people), donate money to get to the front of the Covid-19 vaccine line. There are limited available slots and getting the vaccine must be publicly documented so others can be motivated by these influential figures.

In the first tier, 100 of the wealthiest Americans each donate $100 million to be first in line for a vaccine, getting it within the first weeks of availability. This raises $10 billion.

In the second tier, 1,000 people each donate $10 million to get vaccinated within the first month. This raises another $10 billion.

You can see where this is going: The third tier requires a $1 million contribution for up to 10,000 people. The fourth, $100,000 for up to 100,000 people. The fifth and final tier requires a $25,000 donation from up to 400,000 people. Everyone participating in the program is vaccinated within the first two months of vaccine availability. The bigger the donation, the further toward the front one goes.

All told, this raises $50 billion for the cause by vaccinating just 511,000 people.”

Levine goes on to say he doesn’t “pretend to know the optimal ways to spend this money,” but knows there are a lot of places it can help, ultimately arguing “it can help get past the multitude of barriers to vaccine access, big and small, that exist in the U.S.”

Levine is a bold, clear-headed thinker, but damn, are we really ready to throw the towel in on the (dis)United States being a tax payer funded democracy that aspires to greater equality? Is social mobility so anemic we’re ready to officially acknowledge we’re more of an aristocracy than a democracy?  Are people ready to drive on the Jeff Bezos Highway and live in Apple Incorporated affordable housing?

I’m definitely not ready to throw in the towel on our longstanding democratic ideals, but I can’t disagree with Levine about this:

“My proposal is neither conservative or liberal — or it can be portrayed as both. For conservatives, it is a free-market solution: People and businesses are making a choice on how they use their money. Liberals can view it as a wealth tax: People who can afford it pay for early access to a vaccine and, in doing so, pay for others to get vaccinated. I believe that the concept is inherently nonpolitical. Instead it is a solutions-oriented approach to concerns that have been raised about U.S. vaccination programs.”

Monday Required Reading

1A. These are the best (and most surprising) places to get a draft in a bike race. Important research to know before your next race.

1B. How to keep the bike boom from fizzling out. In Pete Buttigieg we trust.  

“The need for the bike boom to roll on beyond the pandemic is about more than the love of cycling. . . . You’ll literally breathe easier when you start replacing more car trips with bicycles. We’re talking less carbon emissions, less traffic congestion, and a healthier population — the essential ingredients that make people happier and less stressed out. In the World Happiness Report 2020, countries with high bicycle use tend to be among the happiest overall, like the Netherlands (ranked sixth; daily bike use: 43 percent), Denmark (ranked second; daily bike use: 30 percent), and Finland (ranked first; daily bike use: 28 percent).”

2. What to wear to Christmas parties this year.

3. Perhaps he has written more hit songs than anyone else.

4. New data shows residents fleeing California in near record numbers. Substantive reporting from the Sac Bee. Good to know some local papers are still alive and kicking.

5A. COVID-19 and the Failure of Swedish Exceptionalism

“Whereas American exceptionalism is about America’s unique place in the world, Swedish exceptionalism is about being immune to any disasters that may happen in the rest of the world.” 

5B. Younger People Get Vaccines First in Indonesia’s Unusual Rollout.

“There are no good choices, there is only the least-bad choice.”

 

 

 

Seattle Leans A Little Left

Moderate Democrats are splitting with more radical leftists on Seattle’s plans to give misdemeanor suspects a pass for crimes committed to meet a basic need.

Jason Rantz, right wing radio host tells a precautionary story. Seattle CM called police she defunded to report crime she is effectively legalizing.

I guess I’m a moderate Democrat since I find the proposed legislation problematic for the reasons Rantz explains. However, since we already imprison a larger proportion of citizens than any other country, we know Rantz’s solution of locking up more people will do nothing to reduce crime or improve Seattleites’ quality of life. Because criminals aren’t rational. They don’t plan on being caught, and therefore, don’t ponder the odds of going to prison.

We also now know we can’t afford our prison population if we want balanced state budgets. I wish I could direct a larger proportion of my city, county, and state sales taxes to mental health and substance abuse treatment.

That still leaves the question of what to do with all the criminals of sound mind who commit property crimes and other misdemeanors. On that, I’ll defer to experts to propose smarter, more viable alternatives to prison.

Thursday Required Reading

1A. The Resentment That Never Sleeps. Rising anxiety over declining social status tells us a lot about how we got here and where we’re going.

1B. Why So Many Men Stuck With Trump In 2020.

Sociology y’all.

Given your intellectual nature, no doubt you need more reading, but take your time with 1A in particular with its numerous substantive links. And seeing that you haven’t submitted it yet, I suspect your EDUC 205 exam is still a work-in-progress.