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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The enduring oddness of Trump supporter

I’m feeling more and more like we’re leaving Trump behind and I think that’s a good thing. Without him on social media, his voice is much quieter than before. The onslaught of social media posts supporting him and his crazy ideas seem to have faded somewhat. I don’t know if they’re lurking in the shadows or if they’re really fading away. I’ve posted several times on Facebook that years from now I expect to hear plenty of “I never really liked him” or “he wasn’t even close to my favorite” from folks who were the most vocal in their support of him over the past few years. And while I’m ready to move on, I still can’t help being puzzled at support for him and, more broadly, the kind of thinking that goes on in the heads of those who do support him. Lately, it’s the vaccines that have me puzzled the most.

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Today is the day

Jo Biden and Kamala Harris will become president and vice president today. I haven’t put a lot of my thoughts here in a while, but today feels like a good day to put some things into this pseudo-diary. It’s been a long four years, full of turmoil, and I’m hopeful for calmer days. Here are a few things, Trump-Biden related in no particular order.

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The role of psychological projection in the “mainstream media” hatred at FoxNews

That sure feels like the title of an academic paper. Not unexpected from an academic, but also nothing close to the truth. More the ramblings of a non-expert who does this as a hobby, and has some thoughts to get off my chest. Normal stuff. But here’s what triggered me: A discussion of the news that Pfizer’s COVID vaccine exceeded expectations in the early analyses of efficacy and how it was handled in the bit I heard at FoxNews (and “heard” is accurate, because I was in my car, listening to FoxNews on the radio). It got me thinking about how often the criticisms of other media outlets by folks at FoxNews really feel more appropriately directed at themselves.

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Is the ride over or just getting started?

I wrote a quick post the other day, before Biden was declared the winner of the election by the major news agencies. I had a lot on my mind and referred to a few things that I was thinking about and wanted to write more about in the coming days. Some were short-lived, and I’ve lost the desire (need) to think about them more, but others still weigh on me. Perhaps most of all is the polling and how to adjust expectations in the future. I’m not thinking about this as a pollster, because I’m not and never will be. I’m thinking about this as a member of society who relies on polls to give me some semblance of predictability in an unpredictable world. I’m thinking about this as a consumer of information and how to best use that information to inform my decisions and expectations. I’m thinking about this as a lay person, which I absolutely am.

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