Saturday afternoon.

My blog

Fuck Trump, fuck Trump, 70s pop culture, 50s design, no really fuck Trump, enterprise cloud and networking, lolol i farted, here’s a bunch of funny toots I saw on the tooter, fuck racism, fuck Nazis, Doctor Who when it’s on, Game of Thrones when it’s on, Minnie is awesome.

Trump says Sun equally to blame for blocking Moon →

Andy Borowitz:

“The fake news is covering the eclipse from the sun’s side instead of the moon’s side, but if you look at it from the moon’s side the sun is blocking the moon’s side,” he said. “There are so many sides you can’t count all the sides.”

Additionally, Trump tore into the sun itself, calling it a “showboat” for its role in the solar eclipse.

“The sun thinks the world revolves around it,” Trump said. “Sad.”

Trump Says Sun Equally to Blame for Blocking Moon. [Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker]

The careful, pragmatic case against punching Nazis. →

When violence breaks out at white supremacist rallies, the Nazis win the PR war, even if they get beaten up, says Jesse Singal at New York Magazine.

Nonviolent counterprotest, some distance from the Nazi rally, is the way to go:

In the U.S., explicitly white-supremacist groups know they are vastly, vastly outnumbered by everyone who hates them — their paltry numbers being an easy thing to forget in the age of social media and especially so this week, in the wake of a real-life white-supremacist murder. So their only hope for relevance is to maximize every potential bit of media coverage. And the best way to do this is to create media moments: scary, evocative images like the torch photos from last weekend, but also as many violently photogenic confrontations with counterprotesters as possible. Producing violence is an underlying, often unstated, goal of many white-supremacist protests and gatherings.

When violence does break out, videos of it race through the internet’s white-supremacist underbelly, serving as incredibly valuable PR material. It doesn’t matter who gets the better of a given confrontation: When the Nazis get punched, it’s “proof” that anti-fascists or liberals or [insert minority group] or whoever else did the punching have it in for “innocent white Americans just trying to protest peacefully.” When the Nazis punch back, it’s proof that their enemies are, to borrow a word from alt-right parlance, “cucks” who are easily bested in the streets. Even when white supremacists lose street fights, they win the long game.

This sort of tactic, said Jeffrey Kaplan, an academic researcher and the author of a number of books on terrorist movements, “is a constant in terrorism or any form of asymmetric warfare,” whether the group in question is jihadist or white supremacist or whatever else. Kaplan, who is an incoming professor at King Fahd Security College in Riyadh, summed up the extremists’ logic like this: “Our numbers are paltry, we are despised by our countrymen and we couldn’t get a date for the life of us, but any action that has enough impact to strike at the heart of the enemy by getting media coverage is a major triumph.” Violent confrontations allow extremists to make a tantalizing offer to the angry, disillusioned young men — they are almost entirely men — whom they hope to groom to become tomorrow’s haters and killers: We are part of a movement to change the world, as you can see from this latest video that movement is working, and you can be a part of it.

What proponents of disrupting racist gatherings often leave out is that there are alternatives that can help delegitimize white supremacists without falling into any of these potential traps, and without setting aside progressives’ normal ethical qualms about violence. For those instances in which a group of white supremacists really are just attempting to rally or to march, have their permits in order, and so on — meaning there’s no legal way for their opponents to prevent the event — Schanzer laid out a fairly straightforward alternative: Counterdemonstrators should respond assertively, vociferously, and in far superior numbers — but at a distance from the extremists themselves. This tactic both prevents the sort of violent conflict American hate groups want, and has the added benefit of drawing at least some media and social-media attention away from the smaller hateful gathering and toward the much larger counterprotest.

It also seems to be the preferred approach of a wide variety of experts and advocates in this area. “The main thing that [hate groups] seek is attention and publicity to disseminate a message of hate,” Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office, told NPR’s “All Things Considered” during an interview about today’s planned “free speech” rally on Boston Common, which some are concerned will be a magnet for hate groups. “And so the best-case scenario is they come and they speak at the Common and there is nobody there to listen.” And Moises Velasquez-Manoff, a contributing op-ed writer at the Timesexplained earlier this week that according to experts, “Violence directed at white nationalists only fuels their narrative of victimhood — of a hounded, soon-to-be-minority who can’t exercise their rights to free speech without getting pummeled.” “I would want to punch a Nazi in the nose, too,” Maria Stephan, a program director at the United States Institute of Peace, told him. “But there’s a difference between a therapeutic and strategic response.” Progressives would be eagerly echoing and retweeting this sort of logic if the wonks in question were talking about ISIS rather than the National Vanguard. Why should their insights suddenly be ignored?

If this line of thinking is correct, anyone disgusted by organized displays of explicit hatred should adopt a stance along the lines of this: “You know what? Let the Nazis rally. Let them try to promote a dying ideology the entire nation finds execrable. Down the road we are going to set up a big, inclusive show of solidarity that will be ten times larger. And anyone who is scared or intimidated or angry should come there, rather than risk their well-being facing down the dregs of society.” To be sure, this approach may not be as satisfying as punching Nazis, but it may increase the odds that in the future, there will be fewer Nazis to punch in the first place.

But perhaps the best reason to try to respond peacefully, whenever possible, is simply that violence is unpredictable and never easily contained (not even in the short term – again, ask those two journalists who got attacked). The risk that whites-supremacist groups could get more and more radicalized and militant needs to be taken seriously, because however scary it was to see what happened in Charlottesville last weekend, things can get much, much worse. And if things do get worse, plenty of the victims will be people who never asked to take this fight to the streets. In most other situations, progressives understand — or claim to understand — the moral gravity of calling for violence. They shouldn’t let a scary but small group of deeply loathed bigots steer them off course.

The Careful, Pragmatic Case Against Punching Nazis. [Jesse Singal/New York]

To China, the US is an upstart. →

Former President Ulysses S. Grant meets with China’s Viceroy Li Hongzhang, 1879.


The US has been entangled with China for the entirety of our history as a nation. But that’s only a few moments of China’s millennia.

China views the West, including the US, as louche upstarts that have interfered and invaded that country, and temporarily usurped China’s rightful primacy an and across the Pacific ocean, writes Simon Winchester in a December, 2016 book review in the New York Times:

By 2049, a crucially symbolic date on the Chinese calendar that marks the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic, Beijing intends two things: to have recovered in full all the territory it lost during the long centuries of what it considers insulting foreign interference and to assert itself in and across the Pacific Ocean to the precise degree its duty and destiny now demand.

Both aims are well on their way to realization. Almost all territory once held by foreigners is now back in the fold: after Ports Arthur and Edward, after Manchuria, after Shandong and Hainan, after Hong Kong and Macau, all that remains outside is the great island of Taiwan. And so far as the Pacific more generally is concerned, the South China Sea is now close to being under Chinese control. The three so-called “island chains” that serve to protect China’s eastern shores, which extend, in some interpretations, as far out as Hawaii, will soon be dominated by an ever-enlarging Chinese Navy, shortly to be bigger and more powerful than anything the United States may be able to muster or afford.

Beijing’s intentions are certain to collide with what Washington has regarded as its own regional obligations. To avoid conflict, the diplomatic demands on both countries will be prodigious….

Thanks, Lisa Schmeiser!

Gathering Storm: A History of the Complicated U.S.-China Relationship Since 1776. (Simon Winchester/The New York Times).

I noticed recently that I need less sleep

I noticed this on my stay-at-home vacation about a month ago. I thought until then that I needed 8.5-10 hours of sleep a night. That’s a lot of sleep. I was chronically sleep deprived during the week, and slept too much on the weekends. I was not happy with this situation.

Then when I was on vacation I slept as much as I wanted to, every day. Which turned out to be 6-3/4 hours a night. Since then I’ve been making extra effort to get that 6-3/4 hours. And I’ve been feeling pretty well rested.

I do get insomnia every couple of weeks, as I have today. It’s not debilitating, just inconvenient.

I don’t know what the cause of this development is, but I’m happy about it.

I think it may have something to do with my wearing a sleep mask to bed. I started doing that about six months ago and I’ve been doing it even more conscientiously recently. I also wear earplugs.

So how’d the colonoscopy go, Mitch?

All clear! And it was easier than the first one I had, 15 months ago. Still a pain in the–

Um, it was inconvenient.

Warning: I’m keeping all the nasty details out of this post, but it’s still likely to be TMI for some, and not all that interesting to others.


Wednesday and Thursday are a blur to me.

Wednesday was my day for a clear liquid diet. I took two caffeine pills Wednesday morning to keep me going. I took Wednesday as a 50% day at work, which is a phrase I just made up right now to describe a condition where I’m not 100% at work and I’m not taking time off either. I let people know I couldn’t be counted on to be there, but I stayed at my desk, doing what I could. I mostly ignored email, instant messages, and the phone. I just wrote. Without the interruptions, I was more productive than on many 100% days, and I cranked out two stories before falling over sometime in the afternoon and curling up in the living room and entering a foggy state that I did not fully emerge from until Friday morning.

Thursday was caffeineless, which contributed to more fog. I got up at the usual time, did some colonoscopy prep (let’s just leave it at that), and slept on the couch until it was time to go to the hospital for my procedure.

The in-hospital prep for the procedure took longer than anyone expected (and let’s just leave it at that — I mean, I don’t mind sharing details on this stuff but other people do so I’ll just leave it alone). There were a few bad minutes there where I thought I might have to go home and stay on the liquid diet and drink another round of the prep formula, but the gastroenterologist came in and said let’s just do it and I was totally in favor of that.

And we were done and I was home.

No polyps, nothing to be alarmed about. To be on the safe side, the doctor asked me to come back in three years, and so now I have a reminder on my to-do software all by its lonesome waaaaaaaay out in the future of May 2020.

When they wheeled me out of the procedure room, they gave me a small packet of Lorna Doones and a glass of cranberry juice on ice. It was the most delicious food I’ve ever eaten. It was better than a Kobe steak and a $400 glass of wine. Not that I’ve ever had either. But I imagine they’d be fantastic. Though not as good as those Lorna Doones and cranberry juice.

That night I had a normal dinner – fantastic! – and went to bed at the usual time. I slept in a couple of hours late on Friday but other than that I was back to normal. More than normal – I felt great. I got Minnie back in the harness for the first time since Tuesday for our 3+-mile walk in the afternoon and 25-minute walk after dinner. Went to bed at the usual time…

… and woke up five hours later, at 4 am, and I’ve been up since.

Today I learned “World War Z” author Max Brooks is a mensch, and his parents are Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft. →

Novelist Max Brooks On Doomsday, Dyslexia And Growing Up With Hollywood Parents. (Fresh Air podcast):

In the event of a zombie attack, author Max Brooks will be ready. His books The Zombie Survival Guide and World War Z are fictional manifestations of his own fears and anxieties — and his impulse to overcome them by preparing for the worst.

“The notion of learning how to survive when the old world rules no longer apply … pretty much sums up everything I write about,” Brooks says.

His research on preparing for widespread catastrophe has led to lectures at the United States Naval War College and a fellowship at the Modern War Institute. His latest novel, Minecraft: The Island, is a an offshoot of that preparedness theme. Its central character is a nameless person who wakes up in the world of the popular video game Minecraft and must learn how to survive there….

On what his U.S. Naval War College lectures were about

I spoke on interconnectivity. And I talked about how in the 1940s we understood as a nation that everything was connected. We understood that nutrition, education, infrastructure all trickled down to national defense.

For example, you know how we [built] our highways? We built our national highway system literally because, in case our airbases got nuked, we would have millions of miles of paved runways for our planes to land. We talked about how nutrition meant that our soldiers would be healthy; education [meant] our soldiers would understand their training. And I talked about how we had lost all that and that the military was in its own little bubble, and that everything else was eroding on the other side. …

From that lecture, I was invited to speak again and again and again, until finally I was at a strategic studies group. I gave that lecture, and I gave it a final button and I said, “You better take care of your veterans in this war, because my generation grew up with the streets literally paved with Vietnam veterans. And we don’t care how many commercials you throw at us, when you see a legless, drug addict in a cardboard box wearing an old Vietnam army jacket, you know that that’s what’s waiting for you if you serve your country. And if you don’t take care of our vets, you’ll never get new soldiers.”

In the back of the room was a young Army captain who had just got back from Iraq, hearing me talk. And when he was invited to start the Modern War Institute, one of the founders, he invited me to come along….

Ian Welsh: Oppressive Precedents Used Against Nazis Will Be Used Against the Left →

Look, historically, censorship laws and so on have always hit the left harder than the right. Any law which can be used against the left will be.

Protecting the rights of people you hate is the price of protecting your own rights. If you take rights from Nazis, you will be taking them from yourself. At the very least, be sure they are specifically targeted at Nazis, similar to Germany’s laws. If they aren’t, they will be used against you.

Ian Welsh.

OCD sufferers are often tormented by violent fantasies

Obsessive Thoughts: A Darker Side of OCD

Olivia Loving, writing at The Atlantic:

Compulsive tics steal most of the limelight when it comes to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Comparatively less attention, meanwhile, is given to the obsessive thoughts that characterize the other half of OCD. The content of these obsessions can range from pedophilia to homicide to sexual identity crises; compulsions “atoning for” the thoughts sometimes follow. For example: A woman, distraught by visions of murdering her child, wakes up several times in the night to check on her daughter.  

In discussions about OCD with family and friends, I’ve observed that it is easier for others to adjust to compulsions they can see rather than obsessions they can’t. It is easier for them to understand repetitive hand­-washing than, say, the fear of murdering your parents. Abstract pamphlet language—”recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images”—doesn’t necessarily register in a non­sufferer’s mind as graphic or violent.

But the worry that “something bad will happen” is not an ephemeral, occasional threat for OCD sufferers. I avoided knives for years, because in their vicinity I feared I would lose control and stab my
 mother. Though at 13 I was still a child myself, I was terrified of molesting children, and could already see the newspaper headlines and the interminable jail sentence. My Catholic upbringing sent me to my knees—every 15 minutes, 60 times a day—praying that I wouldn’t “hurt or kill anyone, please.” Believing myself to be possessed by the devil, I began researching exorcisms. I wanted to tell my mother—but then how to explain I might kill her? To try to reverse the thoughts, I imagined turning the knife on myself instead.

OCD sufferers with violent fantasies aren’t attracted by those thoughts. They’re repulsed and horrified and hate themselves for having them.