Friday, December 6, 2019

Paraphrasing Cory Booker

From his Pod Save America interview this week:
You can't love America if you don't love your fellow Americans.
If America hasn't broken your heart, you don't really know America.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

"People need to just get over race."

It is simply crazy how some straight white males become so disconnected from the real world. From the Washington Post, via 538:

In 2016, black people were incarcerated at a rate 5.1 times higher than white people. That’s one of the findings in the first major report from the independent, bipartisan Council on Criminal Justice, which looked at the populations in U.S. prisons and jails, as well as individuals on parole and probation, between 2000 and 2016.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Why we can't just stick our fingers in our ears re: race

For a certain atheist blogger / author:

"By failing to recognize that we now live with the severe, enduring effects of de jure segregation [segregation by law and public policy], we avoid confronting our constitutional obligation to reverse it. If I am right that we continue to have de jure segregation, then desegregation is not just a desirable policy; it is a constitutional as well as a moral obligation that we are required to fulfill. 'Let bygones be bygones' is not a legitimate approach...."
The Color of Law

Please also see Vox's Explainer on the racial wealth gap, featuring Cory Booker.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Why Sam

Given that I complain endlessly about Sam Harris, some people have asked why I still listen to him. This podcast episode is an example of why. (But even in this powerful episode, Sam has to go on a digression where he rants that no one should talk about race, with the implication, as always, that only his straight, white, male perspective is "rational." <sigh>)

Side note: I updated my previous post to clarify that the quotes listed were from 1970.

Monday, December 2, 2019


I would like to thank Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods for making me seem prophetic back in 2006.  And it didn't even take 20 years!

“Compare a Boca burger today to one from 20 years ago, and just imagine how good a  veggie burger will be 20 years from now.”

OK, not a Beyond Burger, but still looks really good.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

More from Less

I finally got Andrew McAfee's book More from Less from the library. (Later addendum: One criticism of the book is that it doesn't do a balanced accounting of the US economy. Here is a reply.)

One highlight of the book is to give perspective on just how wrong so many people have been in the past. Andrew writes: "To give an idea of the prevailing mood, beliefs, and predictions of the mainstream environmental movement around [the original 1970] Earth Day, here are a set of quotes [screenshot below] that I find representative. They read to me like dispatches from a society in a panic attack."

Friday, November 29, 2019

Yosemite Photo

As you know, I'm a huge Ansel Adams fan. But I've never seen this photo (the bottom of Upper Yosemite Falls) from him or from anyone. I could be wrong!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb

We hear a lot of talk about "existential risks" these days. But nuclear war between the US and USSR was truly a clear and present danger. (It was the topic of my valedictory speech at my high school graduation in 1986.)

So it is nice to see this:

The Pope Is Planning to Make Nuclear Weapons Immoral in the Catholic Doctrine

Hopefully he doesn't declare this bombshell to be immoral. Photo taken here.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019

In the past twelve months, someone very important to me accomplished something quite spectacular. It was, going into the year, the single thing I cared about most.

There have been some other highlights, but overall, the past year has been one of the worst of my adult life.

The point isn't to indulge my inner cranky old man, but to note that most humans who have ever lived would have done just about anything to trade places with me. This is even more significantly true if we expand out to all sentient creatures.

Relative to a lot of people I know, I tend to focus a lot on how much better things are today than they were in the past. But it is still sobering, if not outright depressing, to realize just how much suffering there is.

What does this saguaro flower have to do with the post? Just reminding myself how fortunate I am to live in Tucson.

Monday, November 25, 2019

How is he still considered reputable?

There are things I regret about my career, but I can't imagine being so utterly, publicly, and consistently wrong.

"The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate."
-Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Republicans Hate Actual Children

As the saying goes, they only care about "life" until birth.

"144 police officers who died in the line of duty and about 1,000 active duty military throughout the world who died, whereas 2,462 school-age children were killed by firearms."

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Incivility and Vegans (but not together!)

I'm quoted in this article by the Washington Post about the vegan lawsuit against Burger King. I am happy to announce that, as of right now, every single one of the many comments on my FB post regarding this has been positive. It really is just a subset of vegans that make the rest of us look bad!

(I would also like to note that almost every time I'm at the grocery store, people behind or ahead of me are buying meat. The latest time I was at Safeway, the woman in front of me was buying at least ten pounds of pork and beef.)

I also wanted to share this article I came across regarding "civility." It strikes just the right tone, IMHO.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Political Realism and Honesty

The above $13 aspirin is from my latest adventure at the local hospital.

The obvious reaction is that our medical system is messed up. And that is honestly true. But honesty does not drive policy. We live in a gerrymandered world where the government of the United States is subject to the Electoral College, an overweighting of empty white states, and the influence of big money.

Our medical system has literally saved my life several times. But on one of those occasions, I would have died if not for Obamacare.

Obama was a political realist. Instead of insisting on the best option, he pushed through the absolute best he could get -- down to the very last vote. (Yes, Joe Lieberman is effing evil.)

Is this sad? Do I wish it was otherwise? Of course. But this is the world we live in. It is a world with real consequences for real people.

I have heard "we have to smash the system" literally for decades. Uncounted individuals have suffered and died because people voted third party instead of for Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. Hundreds of thousands of people are dead and in the ground today because of this "my way or the highway" attitude. The Supreme Court is lost for a generation, as is much of the federal judiciary, and people will suffer and die because of this. Carbon emissions are getting worse, not better, and global hunger is actually going up after decades of progress. And any concept of caring beyond our tribe is circle is further away.

All this and much more because enough well-off white Americans decided they needed to "send a message" by voting for Nader and Stein.

All that matters now is defeating Trump and the Republicans. I honestly don't care what your positions are. If there is a 0.01% greater chance that candidate A will win compared to a vegan atheist scientist who shares all my positions and promises to end all my health problems, I will support candidate A. Because I am not the center of the universe.

If you want to say anything matters beyond winning Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arizona -- well, I just don't want to hear it. I have heard more than enough of destructive self-centered blather from well-off white folks in my life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

"Elect Democrats"

There are some decent thoughts here (and a few stinkers), but by far the best answer to "How should billionaires spend their money to fight climate change?" is to elect Democrats. The rest is really just diddling around the edges at best.