Somehow, it's already the end of September. I realize this happens with some predictability right around this time of year, but it still seems odd to me.
Of course, most of the world seems odd these days:
Finally, just look at this happy dog and all his new human friends playing a fun game of keep-away...during a professional football game in Mexico. I've watched it about five times now. The goodest boi was having such a great time. I hope one of the players or refs adopted him.
Other than getting a little rained on this morning, I've had a pretty good day. But that didn't leave a lot of time to catch up on any of these before I started a deployment just now:
- Heather Cox Richardson examines US history through the lens of a never-ending conflict between "two Americas, one based in religious zeal, mythology, and inequality; and one grounded in rule of the people and the pursuit of equality."
- Josh Marshall ponders the difficulty of covering the XPOTUS's increasingly ghastly behavior in the "both-sides" journalism world we inhabit.
- James Fallows zooms out to look at the framing decisions that journalists and their publishers make that inhibit our understanding of the world. Like, for example, looking at the soon-to-be 4th time Republicans in Congress have shut down the Federal government and blaming all of Washington.
- Fallows also called attention to Amna Nawaz's recent interview with authoritarian Turkish president Recep Erdogan in which she kept her cool and her focus and he...didn't.
- Speaking of the impending Republican torching of the US Government (again), Krugman looks at the two clown shows in the party, but wonders why "everyone says that with the rise of MAGA, the G.O.P. has been taken over by populists. So why is the Republican Party’s economic ideology so elitist and antipopulist?"
- The Supreme Court has once again told the Alabama legislature that it can't draw legislative maps that disenfranchise most of its black citizens. Which, given the state's history, just seems so unlike them.
- The Federal Trade Commission and 17 US States have sued Amazon for a host of antitrust violations. “A single company, Amazon, has seized control over much of the online retail economy,” said the lawsuit.
- Monica Hesse dredges all the sympathy and understanding she can muster for XPOTUS attorney Cassidy Hutchinson's memoir. NB: Hutchinson is 27, which means I am way overdue for starting my own memoir.
- Chicago Sun-Times columnist David Roeder complains that the CTA's planned Red Line extension to 130th Street doesn't take advantage of the existing commuter rail lines that already serve the far south side, but forgets (even as he acknowledges) that Metra and the CTA have entirely different missions and serve different communities. Of course we need new regional transport policies; but that doesn't mean the 130th St extension is bad.
- Software producer Signal, who make the Signal private messaging app, have said they will leave the UK if the Government passes a "safety" bill that gives GCHQ a back door into the app.
- Molly White shakes her head as the mainstream press comes to terms with something she's been saying for years now: NFTs have always been worthless. Oh, and crypto scored two $200-million thefts this week alone, which could be a new record, though this year has already seen $7.1 trillion of crypto thefts, hacks, scams, and other disasters.
- After almost 20 years and a the removal of much of an abandoned hospital in my neighboorhood, the city will finally build the park it promised in 2017.
Finally, I rarely read classical music reviews as scathing as Lawrence Johnson's evisceration of the Lyric Opera's Flying Dutchman opening night last Friday. Yikes.
Another Tuesday, another collection of head-shaking news stories one might expect in the waning days of an empire:
Closer to home, the old candy-making laboratory on the 13th floor of the historic Marshal Field building has come back to life, 24 years after the the last Frango mint was produced there. (Note to readers who speak Portuguese: no one checked a Portuguese dictionary before naming the candy.)
I didn't only read about leaf blowers today. In other news:
- For reasons no one can fathom, there seems to be a relationship between how much scrutiny the individual Justices of the United States have gotten over their conflicts of interest with billionaires and their rejection of outside ethical oversight. Oh, and the two most defiant happen to be the two most ideologically Republican. Hard to figure out why.
- Paul Krugman tries to figure out why inflation has dropped to 3%—not that he's complaining!
- Luis Rubiales, Spain's top soccer official who forcibly kissed player Jennifer Hermoso after the Spanish women's team defeated England in August, finally resigned, though he still doesn't understand what he did wrong.
- If your city needs to resurface a road, encourage them to narrow it, which would save money now, save money in the future, and improve safety all around.
- The Times shares what we know about North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's armored train, and why he doesn't want to fly.
- Allison Davis mourns the loss of her adult friendships caused, it would seem, by the "adorable little detonators" her friends gave birth to. (I’ve learned to hide my real reaction to a new pregnancy — nobody wants their joyous announcement to be met with “Oh my God, not another one.”)
Finally, tire-manufacturer Michelin has started expanding its restaurant guide to new cities, and charging the cities for the privilege. Fortunately they haven't decided to charge the restaurants for inclusion in the Guide.
Fifty years ago today, Gen. Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically-elected government of Chile:
U.S. officials were especially concerned about Salvador Allende, a self-proclaimed Marxist and a member of Chile's Socialist Party who ran for president multiple times and was a leading contender in the 1964 election. He had pledged to nationalize the mostly U.S.-owned copper companies, a large industry in Chile.
The U.S. spent massively on anti-communist propaganda and support for Allende's opponent in 1964. The influence proved effective: Allende lost.
But Allende ran again in 1970. Richard Nixon was now the U.S. president and Henry Kissinger his assistant for national security affairs. They perceived Allende as a threat to U.S. interests and as a friend of the Soviet Union. (Allende's campaign did receive $350,000 from Cuba, according to CIA estimates, and at least $400,000 from Moscow, according to one book on the history of the KGB's foreign operations.) Kissinger was especially concerned about the example it would set for Western European countries to have a socialist freely elected.
It's important to note that Chile was politically polarized. Allende took office having only won just over a third of votes. The Congress was deadlocked.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 1973, the military launched a coup and took control of the country. Military jets bombed the presidential palace. Allende killed himself after giving a final defiant address to the country.
Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the army chief once thought to be loyal to Chile's constitution, soon emerged as the country's new leader. The military junta began a ruthless campaign against communists and socialists.
"There's a state of siege declared. Political parties are outlawed. Universities are shut down. And a process of widespread arrest of political opponents begins to take place," Siavelis says.
People are tortured and killed in detention centers across Chile, including Estadio Nacional, the national stadium. Victims included the popular folk singer Victor Jara.
Ariel Dorfman, a cultural adviser in Allende's cabinet, remembers watching his democracy die, and worries about ours:
Not only did General Pinochet end our dreams; he ushered in an era of brutal human rights violations. During his military rule, from 1973 to 1990, more than 40,000 people were subjected to physical and psychological torture. Hundreds of thousands of Chileans — political opponents, independent critics or innocent civilians suspected of having links to them — were jailed, murdered, persecuted or exiled. More than a thousand men and women are still among the desaparecidos, the disappeared, with no funerals and no graves.
Today, when around 70 percent of the population had not even been born at the time of the military takeover, it is critical for people both in Chile and the rest of the world to remember the dire consequences of resorting to violence to resolve our dilemmas and indulging in division rather than striving for solidarity, dialogue and compassion.
Perhaps many young Chileans will shrug and think of this as just another political feud that has little impact on the long list of troubles they face today: crime and migration into the country; an economic and climate crisis; inadequate health care, education and pensions; a revolt by Indigenous communities in the south of the country. But we need to find a way to forge a shared understanding of our past so we can start creating a shared vision of Chile for the many tomorrows that await us.
Meanwhile, here in the US, the Wisconsin Republican Party appears intent on making that state a "laboratory for autocracy" immune to the majority will of Wisconsin voters. Democracy really is the worst form of government—except for all the others. We're in danger of understanding that a lot better than we really want to in the US.
It never stops, does it? And yet 100 years from now no one will remember 99% of this:
- A group of psychiatrists warned a Yale audience that the XPOTUS has a "dangerous mental illness" and should never get near political office again. Faced with this obvious truth, 59% of Republicans said they'd vote for him in 2024.
- Timothy Noah looks at the average age of the likely nominees for president next year (79) and the average age of the US Senate (60-something) and concludes our country needs a laxative. (Literally so in millions of cases.) Good thing US Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she'll run again next year, after she turns 84. Unfortunately, while I agree in principle with Andrew Sullivan's desire to see President Biden "leave the stage," all the alternatives seem worse to me.
- Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL, age 78) has gotten some pushback from an even bigger dick, Justice Samuel Alito (R-$), because the Senator said it would look unethical if the Justice participated in a case involving a reporter who interviewed the Justice about his unethical behavior. But Samuel says he was ethical; and, sure, he is an honourable man.
- Adolescent narcissist Elon Musk cut Internet coverage to the Ukrainian armed forces just as it started a surprise attack against Russia's Black Sea fleet, apparently at the behest of a Russian official. Josh Marshall calls this clear and convincing evidence that "[y]ou simply can’t have critical national security infrastructure in the hands of a Twitter troll who’s a soft touch for whichever foreign autocrat blows some smoke up his behind. But that's what we have here."
- The Federal Transit Administration has finally committed $2 bn to expanding Chicago's Red Line subway to 130th St., a project first proposed in (checks notes) 1969. And who says the United States has the worst public transit funding in the developed world, other than all the urbanists who have ever studied the problem?
- What do you get when you cross ChatGPT with Google Assistant (or Alexa or Siri)? Don't worry, Bruce Schneier says we'll find out soon enough.
- "Boundaries" has a specific, limited meaning in psychology, not even close to the way most people use the word: "while the proliferation of therapeutic terms has given people access to necessary mental health tools, people may overgeneralize concepts such as boundaries and triggers, and use them to rationalize certain behaviors."
Finally, Guinness set the opening date for its new brewery in Chicago's Fulton Market district: Thursday September 28th. The Brews and Choos Project will visit soon thereafter.
Today's weather feels like we might have real fall weather soon. Today's XKCD kind of nails it, too—not the weather, but the calendar.
In addition to nice weather, we have a nice bit of elected-official hypocrisy, too: the president of the Chicago Teachers Union got caught sending her son to a private school, and giving a really crappy explanation for it.
In other news:
- A jury took all of four hours to convict right-wing intellectual grifter Peter Navarro of contempt of Congress for ignoring the January 6th Committee's subpoena.
- Josh Marshall yawns at attempts to have the XPOTUS barred from the ballot on 14th Amendment grounds, even while conceding that's exactly what the section 4 of the Amendment is for.
- Even though they've attacked abortion rights, sex education, books and movies that feature independent women, and pretty much anything that empowers women and girls, the not-at-all-misogynist Republican Party now wants to end no-fault divorce, allowing as it does women to leave the "covenant" they made with their abusers.
- Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis told US Representative and contender for "Dumbest Person in Congress" Jim Jordan (R-OH) to go—sorry, she essentially said "bless your heart" in a delightful response to his threats of Congressional oversight.
- Julia Ioffe looks at the increasing cynicism of Africans and their rekindled affection for violent coups d'état.
- Veteran writer Tom Fontana ("St Elsewhere", "Oz," "Homicide: Life on the Street") reflects on his 4th writers strike in 40 years, and how pissed off he is.
- Strong Towns highlights a mapping tool to demonstrate how much of your city comprises parking lots. Unless you live in New York, San Francisco, San Juan, Washington, or Chicago, it's pretty grim.
- The National Hurricane Center warns that Hurricane Lee will reach category 5 before dissipating, but fortunately looks likely to miss more-populated areas—though Puerto Rico could get tropical storm winds early Sunday morning.
- National Geographic profiles Ann McKee's extraordinary work researching chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which cripples and kills US footballers more than people admit.
Finally, an old friend traveling back from Burning Man to Montreal plans to crash at my place on Saturday evening. I have two days to read up on the desert full of moop, Cory Doctorow's assertion that this Burn really was different, and the evidence that climate change played an outsized role in the muddy hell at Black Rock City this year.
The temperature has crept up towards 34°C all day after staying at a comfortable 28°C yesterday and 25°C Friday. It's officially 33°C at O'Hare but just a scoshe above 31°C at IDTWHQ. Also, I still feel...uncomfortable in certain places closely associated with walking. All of which explains why I'm jotting down a bunch of news stories to read instead of walking Cassie.
- First, if you have tomorrow off for Labor Day, you can thank Chicago workers. (Of course, if you have May 1st off for Labor Day, you can also thank us on the actual day that they intended.)
- A new study suggests 84% of the general population want to experience an orchestral concert, though it didn't get into how much they want to pay for such a thing. (You can hear Händel's complete Messiah on December 9th at Holy Name Cathedral or December 10th at Millar Chapel for just $50!)
- An FBI whistleblower claims Russian intelligence co-opted Rudy Giuliani in the run-up to the 2020 election—not as a Russian agent, mind you, just as a "useful idiot."
- Rapper Eminem has told Republican presidential (*cough*) candidate Vivek Ramaswamy—who Michelle Goldberg calls "very annoying"—to stop using his music in his political campaign.
- The government of Chile has promised to investigate the 3000 or so disappearances that happened under dictator Agosto Pinochet, though they acknowledge that it might be hard to find the ones thrown out of helicopters into the sea, or dropped down mine shafts. And with most of the murderers already dead of old age, it's about time.
- Julia Ioffe wonders when the next putsch attempt will get close to Moscow, now that Prigozhin seems to be dead.
- About 70,000 people continue to squelch through ankle-deep mud at Black Rock City after torrential rains at Burning Man this weekend. (I can't wait to see the moop map...)
- University of Michigan Law Professor Nicholas Bagley had a cogent explanation of why pharmaceutical companies don't want to negotiate drug prices with Medicare. (Hint: record profits.)
- Switching Chicago's pre-World War II bungalows from gas to electric heating could cut the city's GHG emissions by 14%.
- Molly White's weekly newsletter starts off with some truly clueless and entitled behavior from Sam Bankman-Fried and gets weirder.
- Zoning laws, plus the inability of the Portland, Ore., government to allow variances in any useful fashion, has condemned an entire high school to send its kids an hour away by bus while the building gets repaired, rather than just across the street to the community college many of them attend in the evenings. (Guess what skin color the kids have. Go on, guess.)
- A group of hackers compromised a Portuguese-language "stalkerware" company and deleted all the data the company's spyware had downloaded, as well as the keys to the compromised phones it came from, then posted the company's customer data online. "Because fuck stalkerware," they said.
- Traffic engineers, please don't confuse people by turning their small-town streets into stroads. It causes accidents. Which you, not they, have caused.
- Illinois had a mild and dry summer, ending just before our ferociously hot Labor Day weekend.
- James Fallows talks about college rankings, "which are marginally more encouraging than the current chaos of College Football."
Finally, I'll just leave this Tweet from former labor secretary Robert Reich as its own little monument to the New Gilded Age we now inhabit:
Even though the United States Constitution prohibits the US or the States from issuing titles of nobility, the longing for lifetime honors still exists in certain status-conscious professions. Politicians, probably more than any other group of people, fit that description.
Despite the desire of every SES2 to retain his or her title long after being fired by the under-secretary just above in rank, really only three offices of the United States confer a lifetime title, and only by custom, not by statute:
- President of the United States
- Flag or General Officer in the Armed Forces
I'm prompted to post this reminder because some news stories about the death of Ambassador and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson today have omitted the adjective phrase "former New Mexico" from his identification. Since he won US Senate confirmation to become the US Ambassador to the United Nations in 1997, writers could refer to him as Ambassador Richardson or call him Mr Ambassador for the rest of time. But he wasn't properly addressed as "Mr Governor" at any time after leaving that office in 2011, or "Mr Secratary" after stepping down in 1998.
Addressing him as Mr Secretary, Mr Governor, or Mr Congressman when he no longer held office was not appropriate. Governor is a higher rank than Ambassador, so while governing New Mexico, he would have been referred to as Governor Richardson. (Oddly, though, leaving the UN for the Energy Deptartment demoted him a step.)
So, rest in peace, Ambassador Richardson. You were a statesman.
One quick addendum: In some cases it may be appropriate to address a retired military officer by his or her title. Note this does not apply to people who muster out before retirement. Generally, people who remain on active duty long enough to reach O6 (Navy, Coast Guard, or Public Health Service Captain; Army, Marine, or Space Force Colonel) will retire rather than quit. It's very unusual for people to retire as O3 or O4 unless they were prior-enlisted and served 10 years or more before commissioning, which is why you will probably never call a retired officer "Lieutenant Jones." A retired captain may be addressed as "Captain Smith;" the guy who signed his DD-214 after two contracts is just "Mr Smith."
Since today is the last Friday of the summer, I'm leaving the office a little early to tackle one of the more logistically challenging itineraries on the Brews & Choos Project. So I'm queueing up a few things to read over the weekend:
Finally, via Bruce Schneier, a report on Mexican food labeling laws, how manufacturers have gone to absurd lengths to skirt them, and how these fights are probably coming the US soon.