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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Delight in suffering

Trump supporters like to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome, in spite of having no idea where that phrase originated and what its originator thinks about Trump. Although I think the phrase is a bit over- and mis-used, the visceral disgust that many of us feel about Trump is real. I wouldn’t call it derangement, but there’s a real difference between how I feel about Trump and how I feel and have felt about politicians and pundits who haven’t shared my views in the past. I don’t think that’s because I’ve changed. I think it’s because there’s something vastly different about Trump and his supporters: they seem to place a higher value on upsetting their opponents than on achieving some policy goal.

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The never ending culture war

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been pretty active on social media still, but haven’t found the motivation to write anything more extensive like I usually write for this place. But my recent sadness has moved me to jot these thoughts down and put them here. My sadness is because of the turn that the culture war has taken. We used to argue about taxes and about whether companies should be regulated and if we should allow kids to pray in schools. The last argument I remember having with one side of my family (a side that has pretty much banned political discussions since Obama was elected) was about private vs public control of health insurance. It’s memorable to me as one of those conversations that runs in my mind because it should have gone so differently. I had made the case that the private sector couldn’t operate in the business of insuring the elderly because there’s simply no way to do it and turn a profit. The guy I was talking to pointed to Medicare advantage programs that are administered by private companies as evidence that they could. I don’t remember what happened next, or what I said, but I want to rewind and make the point that none of those programs work if the public sector isn’t paying the bill, or at least a big part of the bill. But I digress. My point here is that these are the things we used to argue about, sometimes getting hot about them. We talked about things and had strong opinions, but it all just felt different. Continue reading “The never ending culture war”