The Privilege to Celebrate Juneteenth

I try, as a rule, to pick my topics carefully. Not carefully in that I want to avoid controversial topics or trying to make sure that I don’t get into some kind of trouble from people who disagree with me (not many people read this anyway, so I still find this to be my safe space). But I pick topics carefully in that I generally only write about things if two criteria are satisfied: 1) I have thought deeply about the topic, and 2) the position I am taking on the topic has a solid fact-based foundation. To some (mostly over in Facebook land, where more people tend to read my stuff), it makes it seem like I’m full of facts and figures, but in reality, it’s easier to seem super knowledgable by limiting yourself to topics that you know something about. But here I am, breaking my “rule” that isn’t really a rule. I don’t feel on firm ground on this one, and what I’m going to write may have plenty of obvious flaws (in addition to the flaws from unedited writing and a lack of good proofreading that have always been part of Hitting Bregma). The good thing is that I don’t use being right or wrong as a category in my estimate of my value to the world. I’m not upset when I’m shown that I was wrong. Sometimes I’m confused how I didn’t see it myself, but I’m excited to have a reason to change my views, so breaking my “rule” doesn’t have much risk to it. So let’s talk about Juneteenth a little bit. Just a little bit…this introduction might have more to say than whatever comes after the fold.

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The stupid economy

When Bill Clinton ran for president, James Carville, Clinton’s lead strategist said, “it’s the economy, stupid” and that phrase caught on. I’m not an economist, but it’s clear to me that the use of “stupid” in this phrase could have many meanings, intended or otherwise. More importantly, I used “It’s the economy, stupid” as a title for a post already, so I had to mix it up a bit for this one. But more and more, I think there’s a lot of stupid when it comes to the economy, or at least how people talk about the economy.

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War and Heritage

It’s been a while since I’ve used this site to work out my thoughts on something. Some of that has been because I’ve been busier than usual, but mostly I think it’s because I’ve lost my debate opponents on social media, and these debates often served as the spark for my deeper thoughts that I brought here. I don’t know where the debate opponents went, I think they grew tired of debating me, and maybe they felt like it didn’t mean as much after Trump lost. Either way, I have a void over there, that’s clearly leading to a void over here. But the war in Ukraine got me thinking about something and this seems to be the perfect place to put those thoughts into writing. It all starts with me being very upset about what Russia is doing, but also being Russian, at least in part.

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COVID cases and deaths: maybe some good news

I haven’t used this site in a while, mostly because I got out of the habit, and also because I got a little sick of thinking about the kinds of things that I tend to write about here. It’s also probably because a lot of what I did here served as an outlet to dive deeper into conversations I was having on Facebook, and those conversations haven’t been as interesting lately, probably because people who disagreed with me seem less likely to jump in in the post-Trump era. But today I found myself thinking about COVID and omicron and I did a bit of graph comparing that fits pretty well here, so I’m back at it.

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All the colors of the non-binary world

This is another one of those posts that started on Facebook, but that I wanted to preserve here. It all started when I was up in the middle of the night and replied to a stranger’s comment in Facebook land. Between now and then, the original comment was deleted, so there wasn’t a chance for a reply (at least not one that I saw). The comment was unfortunately all too common. Something along the lines of there being only two genders and it’s basic biology and there are no transgender dogs (yes, there was a specific mention of dogs…I wouldn’t say that part is typical, but it was there nonetheless).

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Immigration and redistricting (and immigration policy)

Any Twitter feud between Ted Cruz and Trevor Noah is going to get my attention. So far, there’s not much of a feud, but Cruz fired a shot, and I”m hoping Noah responds. The focus of this is on the census, and that states like New York and California will be losing congressional seats, while Texas and Florida will be gaining seats. What I’m left wondering is how much of the different population numbers are because of Trump administration immigration policies.

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What do I want to do when I grow up?

I don’t usually use this forum for work-related stuff, but I put a thread up on Twitter this morning about education, especially PhD education, and it has the kind of geopolitical feel that made me want to echo it, and maybe expand it a little, here. The road to a PhD has always been hard. Mine was considered relatively short, at five years, but it wasn’t easy and it was full of stories of faculty members making me feel like shit, and just generally feeling like shit, but also full of stories of feeling incredibly fulfilled and accomplished. If you spend any time the side of Twitter where academics roam, especially graduate students, you might wonder why anybody would ever even try to get a PhD. How is this geopolitical? Because I think its roots are in classic America-good-and-others-bad propaganda.

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The COVID-19 messaging failures keep coming

The CNN reporting on Trump administration officials and the internal arguments over the COVID-19 response has me thinking about what could have been and what should have been. I’ve been trying to avoid looking back. I think the Trump presidency was awful in many ways. And while I see the value in learning from mistakes, his presidency seems, to me, so unique that I’m cautiously optimistic that his mistakes aren’t the kind that any current or future president will make, so I’m not sure what we gain, in this case, from dwelling in the past. But when it comes to COVID-19, some of the mistakes keep getting made, and that’s really unfortunate.

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Reading between science lines

There’s a large disconnect between the world of science and the world outside of science. We’ve known this for a long time, and there’s polling to support it (more details about that later), but it’s become incredibly clear in the COVID pandemic. I’ve used this blog as a way to talk about things that aren’t related to my professional life, but as my hobby of being a political junkie mixes with the world of science, it’s sometimes hard to take off that hat that I wear while I’m working. And thinking about things as a scientist and as a non-scientist makes us see things differently, and makes us talk about things differently.

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Is it all about power?

Folks in politics and who talk about politics often accuse others of just trying to gain power. I understand this notion, but I’m not sure what kind of power people are talking about most of the time. Money? Sure. I can see that. Decision-making? OK. Feeling like you’re somebody special? I can understand all of that. But it seems like, maybe for one group more than another, those goals put people on very strange sides of arguments.

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