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Tuesday, April 16, 2024


I don't recall at the moment how I ran across this book. Deep into it at the moment. Much to recommend thus far.

Impressive woman. Master’s degree in social policy from the London School of Economics. Now adjunct faculty at Indiana University (in her “spare time“). A stickler for precise etymology-grounded definitions of core terms—very helpful in de-conflating widespread misunderstandings which only serve to routinely throw sand in the gears of discourse.

Worth it to recall again the foci on my interest in this stuff. We have no shortage of serious issues to attend and resolve, constructively and peaceably. To that end, in 2019 I asked "is there a Science of Deliberation?"

What do you think? And what have I missed in my (somewhat overlapping) tabulation?
Stay tuned...

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Time's 2024 Man of the Year:

A post-Presidential first.

Well, I guess we'll see...


"Just four years ago I was a very popular and successful President of the United States, getting more votes than any sitting President in history. Tomorrow morning I’ll be in Criminal Court, before a totally conflicted Judge, a Corrupt Prosecutor, a Legal System in CHAOS, a State being overrun by violent crime and corruption, and Crooked Joe Biden’s henchmen 'Rigging the System' against his Political Opponent, ME!"

"I will be fighting for myself but, much more importantly, I will be fighting for our Country. Election Interference like this has never happened in the USA before and, hopefully, will never happen again. We are now a Nation in serious Decline, a Failing Nation, but we will soon be a Great Nation Again. November 5th will be the most important day in the History of the United States. MAGA2024! SEE YOU TOMORROW."

"I’ve got 8 Biden cases (lawsuits!) going on at one time. They want to take money I would use for the campaign, and my time. Never been done before in our Country. Crooked politicians and corrupt prosecutors and Judges. November 5th is the most important day in the history of our Country. WE WILL WIN! MAGA2024."



A predictable maudlin circus. Very little of substance to even comment on. This judicial soap opera is predicted to last from 4 to 6 weeks. Of course, Donald had to take a last verbal shot after court.

Friday, April 12, 2024

We in the “First World” are ALSO “Tribes on the Edge.”

We in Baltimore were graced by a compelling talk given by Celine Cousteau last night. The “Baltimore Speakers Bureau” saved the best for last this year.
"Humankind has not woven the web of life.
We are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together,
All things connect."
—Chief Seattle
To which I'd add
"Nature may be red in tooth and claw,
but it is not merely so."
—Sam Harris


At approximately 5:15 PM Eastern time, I saw a CNN TV news story that Iran had launched a huge wave of missile and drone attacks (hundreds of them) directly from Iran and aimed at Israel. It is now a bit after 8:30 PM, and many of them have been shot down, but a number have gotten through. Going to be a very bad night.

Rather puny outcome, given the more than 300 missiles and armed drones launched by Iran. Who'd they put in charge of this attack? Abdul the bin al MyPillow Guy? All jokes aside, expect more bad stuff in the wake of this.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

The U.S. White Nationalist Flea Market of Ideas.

 a.k.a. The “Claremont Institute”
On one level, the jokes just write themselves. However, this stuff is really not funny. Stay tuned for some serious fracking on this poignant, sorry motherlode of rhetorical fallacies and Incel-resonant White Male Victimhood pearl-clutching and indignantly harrumphing MEGO sophistry.
[Note: "The Claremont Institute" is not affiliated in any way with the SoCal Claremont Colleges. I called the school to confirm that.]
The movement now called MAGA has long existed in the American political bloodstream; fittingly, Trump’s companion motto, “America First,” originated in 1940 among isolationists at the outbreak of World War II. Across every iteration, this movement’s ideology was and is loosely defined by nationalism and traditional social values, fierce opposition to liberalism as a slippery slope to communism, and a tendency toward paranoia and conspiratorial thinking. For most of the postwar era, this worldview remained on the fringe of American politics—that is, unpersuasive to most Americans, and systematically frozen out by the two major parties. In contrast to the mainstream GOP, the fringe passionately opposed immigration and trade and rejected bipartisan compromise, even tolerating violence.

In spite of, or maybe because of, being so marginalized, a core tenet of this belief system was that its adherents were surely right, and most Americans surely agreed with them, if only their views could be heard—that America was inherently and immovably a right-of-center, conservative country, no matter how many times the voters said otherwise. This faction managed to persist and even grow despite the repeated electoral setbacks that befell its champions, from Barry Goldwater to Pat Buchanan. By the 2010s, with the rise of the Tea Party backlash to Barack Obama’s election, the coarser side of the American right was gaining strength but still decidedly an outside force pressuring the Republican Party. The movement lacked someone with the political talent, charisma, fame, or resources to popularize its ideology (as Ronald Reagan did for his sunny small-government conservatism)—until Trump. The America of Trump’s first inaugural—“this American carnage”—sounded shockingly dark to anyone not already steeped in the harsh pessimism that had long festered on the outer edge of the American right. To those who were, listening to Trump sounded like finally, for the first time, being recognized and represented.

Trump never missed an opportunity to use his presidential megaphone to elevate these views, from defending white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville to railing against “deep state” enemies. He both welcomed more people from the radical fringe into the Republican fold and at the same time mainstreamed their views to steadily radicalize the existing rank and file. In his final year in office, two genuine crises collided to radicalize millions more Republicans with astonishing speed. First, the pandemic upended all semblance of normalcy, injected politics into daily life, and fueled a spasm of conspiracy theories that presented attractive alternatives to experts asking for major sacrifices; suddenly, as government officials started exercising powers unseen in living memory, many Republicans found it a little less far-fetched, a little more credible, to believe that Democrats wanted to control their lives and take away their freedoms. Then, massive street demonstrations responding to the murder of George Floyd created an atmosphere of social upheaval, racial unrest, and, based on portrayals in right-wing media, rampant lawlessness and destruction. Trump’s campaign messaging rolled it all up—the “China virus” and the “thugs”—into a vast voter-fraud conspiracy arrayed against him and his supporters. The widespread misinformation about the virus and the protests primed Trump’s supporters to reject the result of the election. The names, dates, and places of the supposed theft, to the extent they were ever specified, were always changing and never really mattered. The essence of the stolen-election myth was the latest, biggest expression of insisting America must tilt right, that, as Trump would repeat at his rallies, “this nation does not belong to them, this nation belongs to you.”

Arnsdorf, Isaac (2024-04-08T23:58:59.000). Finish What We Started. Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition. 
Click the cover page above.


I am an inveterate Rick Wilson fanboy. After a brain-numbing day of reading everything, I never wanted to know about the hatemongering AntiWoke non-cosmopolitan Stephen Miller, (See prior post; I finished the Miller bio) this provides a good respite, for me, anyway. Not that I totally, uncritically buy into all of this AI Gartner hype cycle.

More shortly…

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Climate change mass migration implications: "On The Move"

Read about this in Science Magazine.  Goes to my "Covering Climate" riffs.
Photo from the Science Magazine review. Been there, seen that fiery, smoky sky.
2018 wildfire haze, in front of my house in Antioch, looking W. toward SF mid-day.
A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice

On the Move explains how we got here and where we're headed. It's crucial guide to the world we are creating." —Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Under a White Sky and The Sixth Extinction

A vivid, journalistic account of how climate change will make American life as we know it unfeasible.Humanity is on the precipice of a great climate migration, and Americans will not be spared. Tens of millions of people are likely to be driven from the places they call home. Poorer communities will be left behind, while growth will surge in the cities and regions most attractive to climate refugees. America will be changed utterly.

Abrahm Lustgarten’s On the Move is the definitive account of what this massive population shift might look like. As he shows, the United States will be rendered unrecognizable by four unstoppable forces: wildfires in the West; frequent flooding in coastal regions; extreme heat and humidity in the South; and droughts that will make farming all but impossible across much of the nation.

Reporting from the front lines of climate migration, Lustgarten explains how a pattern of shortsighted policies encouraged millions to settle in vulnerable parts of the country, and introduces us to homeowners in California, insurance customers in Florida, and ranchers in Colorado who are being forced to make the agonizing choice of when, not whether, to leave. Employing the most current climate data and predictive models, he shows how America’s population will be squeezed northward into a shrinking triangle of land stretching from Tennessee to Maine to the Great Lakes. The places many of us now call home are at risk, and On the Move reveals how we’ll deal with the consequences.
These are the opening book lines from the Prologue:

I totally get it. In 2017, my late younger daughter was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. There were days when her chemo sessions had to be canceled because the area wildfire smoke was so heavy in the air. Four months after she died, I had to have aortic valve replacement heart surgery. My postop PT rehab sessions had to be canceled several times for the same reason. In 2019 we left California and moved to Baltimore—only to then get slammed with COVID-19 shutdowns the following year, and then persisent fire smoke from massive Canadian wildfires.

Below, the author's cool web page (click the image).

American climate migration
Increasingly inhospitable conditions will change the nation’s demography, argues a journalist

Currently, less than 1% of Earth is too hot to support human life, but researchers estimate that by 2070 nearly 20% of the planet’s surface will be outside humanity’s comfort zone. The “bubble of unlivability” could include up to a third of the people on Earth, and existing inequalities will likely increase conflict. In the United States, vulnerable populations will be prone to disproportionate risk.

On the Move
, by journalist Abrahm Lustgarten, is a poignant and meticulously researched exploration of climate change and both its imminent and long-term effects on human migration in the US. Through analysis, personal narratives, and projected future scenarios, Lustgarten unveils the stark reality of a world on the brink of massive demographic shifts driven by an increasingly inhospitable climate.

Lustgarten begins with a personal account of the moment he recognized the climate crisis as a reality that no region will escape. His usual view of the San Francisco skyline was replaced by “a sepia-toned, smoke-filled universe,” he writes. “Just twelve miles away as the crow flies, behind the ridge of parched and brittle redwoods I could see from my window, the Point Reyes National Seashore was burning. Tall gray towers of smoke billowed upward, raining down soot.” He then details how climate-driven migrations are not a future possibility but rather a current event, with historical precedents and emerging patterns that signal a profound shift in how and where people can live.

Lustgarten predicts that Americans will see an influx of migrants from the south and will experience considerable internal migration as well. Increasingly frequent and severe wildfires, extreme weather patterns, and sea level rise will make some areas uninhabitable. “The poorest neighborhoods— many of them predominantly Black and Latinx—are in the lowest-lying areas, and they will suffer first,” he observes.

The book begins with an analysis of climate change pressures, providing a glimpse into what life might look like within several decades. Here, Lustgarten highlights the risks many Americans have unknowingly accepted by living in vulnerable areas and how economic policies have exacerbated these risks.

In subsequent chapters, Lustgarten projects the demographic shifts that are likely to occur within the United States. These include coastal residents moving inland because of rising sea levels and hurricanes, as well as migration from the drought-stricken Midwest to regions with stable water sources...

Amid the growing body of literature on climate change, Lustgarten’s book provides a crucial examination of the impacts—realized and projected—in our own backyards and how these changes are remaking society. Importantly, it is both a call to action and a blueprint for how to weather the coming storm, highlighting historical injustices and charting an equitable path forward. review
No "praise-criticism-praise" dings. 100% positive review assessment. I've just begun reading the book. 
It's reminding me that I am remiss, in not yet finishing Michael E. Mann's latest:

We live on a Goldilocks planet. It has water, an oxygen-rich atmosphere, and an ozone layer that protects life from damaging ultraviolet rays. It is neither too cold nor too hot, seemingly just right for life. Despite our ongoing search—which, with the recent advent of the James Webb telescope, now extends out nearly fourteen billion light years—we have thus far found no other planet in the universe with such benevolent conditions. It’s almost as if this planet, Earth, was custom made for us. And yet it wasn’t.

For the vast majority of its 4.54 billion years, Earth has proven it can manage just fine without human beings. The first hominids—proto-humans—emerged a little more than two million years ago. Only during the past 200,000 years have modern humans walked the Earth. And human civilizations have existed for only about 6000 or so years, 0.0001 percent of Earth’s history—a fleeting moment in geological time.

What is it that made this fragile yet benevolent moment of ours possible? Ironically, it’s the very same thing that now threatens us: climate change…

Mann, Michael E.. Our Fragile Moment (p. 8). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.
apropos of On The Move, Dr. Mann notes
The fact that the rate of warming today far exceeds that during the PETM presents its own unique challenges. We saw that mammals and other species migrated away from regions that became too warm, or literally—as in the curious case of the shrinking horses—adapted to the warmth. But the rate of warming today, as we’ve seen, is more than ten times greater, exceeding the rate at which plants and animals can be expected to migrate or adapt. And adding insult to injury, we’ve built all sorts of obstacles—in the form of cities, highways, and other infrastructure—that stand in the way of likely migration routes.

Now what about a worst-case scenario, where we actually regress, reversing the climate policies we’ve already enacted, proceeding instead to burn all of the reasonably accessible fossil fuel reserves? The state-of-the-art model projections used in the most recent assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate a most-likely warming, in that case, of about 7°F by 2100, plateauing in 2300 to an approximate 14°F warming. That is a huge, devastating amount of warming, but it’s not a “runaway” greenhouse scenario, nor is it a PETM hothouse scenario. What if we instead take the most extreme end of the IPCC simulation range? In that worst-case scenario we’re looking instead at as much as 11°F by 2100, plateauing to about 23°F in 2300. That would put global average temperatures at around 83°F two centuries from now. That scenario is extremely unlikely as it assumes a reversal of climate policy progress already made and is based on the most extreme of the more than fifty climate models analyzed by the IPCC. Though it still falls several degrees short of the PETM, it’s uncomfortably close, and possibly hot enough that much of the planet would be uninhabitably hot for humans and other large mammals. So yeah, if we try really, really hard, we could make at least most of this planet unlivable for human beings…
[Our Fragile Moment, pp, 182-183]


… [Stephen] Miller and another Breitbart editor, Julia Hahn, became close. With rosy cheeks and fair skin, Hahn had grown up in Beverly Hills, another wealthy hub of Los Angeles County. During a social gathering at Hahn’s apartment, Miller didn’t want to talk about anything except immigration. “That was all he was fixated on,” McHugh says, “even in a social gathering.”

He recommended that Breitbart do a story about the racist-dystopian book The Camp of the Saints. It was the book that helped inspire Tanton and May to create anti-immigration think tanks, the one filled with degrading descriptions of refugees, such as “kinky-haired, swarthy-skinned, long-despised phantoms,” and “teeming ants toiling for the white man’s comfort.”

Miller suggested that Breitbart “point out the parallels” between the novel and real life. Days later, Julia Hahn wrote a four-thousand-word ode to the book. She compared Pope Francis to Raspail’s fictional pope who preaches universal love, suggesting the book was prophetic. “Pope Francis is urging America to throw open her borders,” she wrote. (In fact, he had urged the United States to treat migrants “in a way which is always humane.”) Hahn compared Hollywood celebrities to the book’s “celebrity elites” who “throw bacchanalian bashes to celebrate and raise funds” for refugees. She likened Rubio to “one of the most dangerous characters . ... ‘full of the milk of human kindness,’ ” Albert Durfort, who fights for an immigration policy that will “seal their doom.” She wrote: “Importing millions of migrants from failed countries with different values and customs will not raise standards of living but will instead merely remake the West in the image of those failed countries.”

After that, Bannon repeatedly cited the book to describe the situation at the border. “It’s not a migration. It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints,” he said.

Guerrero, Jean. Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda (pp. 149-150). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition. 

It behooves us to recall the explicit 2024 promises of The Verminator, should he return to The White House, along with his seething xenophobic White Nationalist in Chief Stephen Miller.

Stay tuned. More shortly...

Friday, April 5, 2024

Donald Trump's "Truth Social" IPO:

 A Dead Cat bounce?
After Don Poorleone's NASDAQ:DJT opened on the public stock market last week, it quickly peaked at $79.38. Since then it has slid -49% (1-(40.59/79.38)). Bing, bing, bing, boing, boing, boing, bong, bong, bong.
4.8 Earthquake in N. Central NJ today, Epicenter 15 miles from Somerville, where I was graduated from HS in 1964. About 12 mi west of Trump's NJ golf club.


Tuesday, April 2, 2024

On The Verminator;

Just WHO has been “Poisoning the Blood of Our Country?”

Thankfully, the Trump GOP MAGA anti-POC white nationalist bigots have been uncharacteristically (relatively) subdued in the news and social media across the past week (at least here in Baltimore) in the wake of the Baltimore Francis Scott Key bridge tragedy–notably given that the six fatalities were road maintenance workers on the bridge who were all central American immigrants.

I was gratified to read this by Will Bunch:

From the day in the mid-2000s when a then-20-year-old Maynor Yassir Suazo Sandoval crossed the border into America, he never stopped working. The youngest of eight children, Suazo was fleeing numbing poverty and a dead-end career path in Azacualpa, a small rural village in the western mountains of Honduras.

The undocumented Suazo wound up in Greater Baltimore, a magnet for Central American refugees with its relatively cheap housing for the bustling Eastern Seaboard, a friendly climate toward migrants, and lots of opportunity. With American dreams of entrepreneurship, he took menial jobs like clearing brush, then launched a package delivery service, and when COVID-19 ended that, started working overnight construction for a Baltimore contractor, Brawner Brothers.

Suazo was described by friends and family as happy, outgoing, and tireless. He had to be. While supporting a wife and two kids, he was also sending $600 to $800 a month back to Azacualpa, enough to help family members buy a small hotel and even support youth soccer. In Baltimore, he was what his brother called “the fundamental pillar” for a growing number of relatives who made it to Maryland. Home from the grueling construction work at 5 a.m., he was out working again by noon, picking up extra dollars cleaning yards, painting houses, or landscaping.

When the Dali cargo ship demolished that bridge support [1:30 a.m. March 26th 2024] it also obliterated all the ridiculous lies and myths our demagogues have been spreading around immigration. There were no sex traffickers aboard the Key Bridge that night. Nobody was dealing fentanyl. They were not “animals,” but fathers and husbands like Suazo and Luna, whose wife occasionally showed up in her food truck to bring the men tacos and pupusas. They were filling potholes so their children could have an even better life.

These six workers who perished were not “poisoning the blood of our country,” they were replenishing it. This is a moment of clarity when we need to reject the national disease of xenophobia and restore our faith in the United States as a beacon for the best people like Suazo. They may have been born all over the continent, but when these men plunged into our waters on Tuesday, they died as Americans.

Read the entire OpEd. More on this shortly. Trump and I are the same age (I'm 4 months older), both from the same area, and I too was raised up amid endemic bigotry.
I got over it. He did not. The Verminator.