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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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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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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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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A roller coaster election day/week

It’s November 6, three days after election day and we do not have an official winner of the election. If you live in Biden world (like I do), there’s finally optimism that Biden will eventually be declared the winner, and the lead he’s just taken in Pennsylvania makes that very likely. If you live in Trump world, hundreds of thousands of votes were cast after the election and it’s just a matter of time before the Supreme Court throws them out and declares Trump the winner. I don’t have a sense of how populated that version of Trumpworld is, but it’s not empty.

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Generation of Hate Revisited

Years ago, in the early days of me dumping my thoughts on this site, I proposed that we’re living through the most hateful time in history. If you read that post, you’ll see that I don’t mean it in the way that’s most obvious, that people are more hateful than ever, but instead that people feel more hated than ever. I’ve been thinking more about this lately, largely inspired by a series of Facebook posts that have come and gone over the years, but seem to be coming back with a vengeance. Although my premise hasn’t changed, I’m starting to have a better, perhaps slightly more paranoid, perspective about it all.

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Trump and the new version of identity politics

There are many things I don’t feel like I fully understand. The concept of identity politics is one of them. Perhaps it’s not that I don’t understand it as much as it confuses me because it seems thrown around so much that it’s kind of meaningless to me. But for many years I’ve thought of identity politics as a term used to describe the way that politicians try to attract voters of specific identities. The way that democrats have tried to appeal to LGBTQ voters or African-American voters, and the way that republicans have tried to appeal to military members and people who are very religious. When I think of identity politics, it’s about appealing to people with these specific labels being part of their identity. But I think the idea can also be thought of in the converse: that support for a specific politician becomes part of a person’s identity. A shorthand for what’s important to them and where they stand on issues.

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