Give him the money for his stupid wall…

Yes, you heard that. I think the democrats should give Trump the $5 billion he requested for the wall. I think the wall is a dumb idea. I think we already have physical (natural and man-made) barriers that do good where they’re needed. I think the eminent domain issues will be tied up in court for the better part of a decade, at least. I don’t think it’s a good use of our funds, but it’s about 0.13% of the proposed FY2019 budget, it’s a fraction of important things like the $39 billion budget for the National Institutes of Health, and I just don’t care enough about it to advocate keeping federal workers from getting their paychecks.

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So much happening, so little to say (another grab bag)

I’ve been neglecting this outlet in favor of Facebook and Twitter these days. I think it’s mostly because I’m spread so thin on my outrage about things, that I can’t decide which of the many things bothering me deserves a whole entry here. Like before, it’s deserving of a Grab Bag kind of post, just to get it all out there.

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No explanation

Anybody who knows me will know that I crave explanations. It’s likely one of the things that’s so appealing to me about being a scientist. I’ve written about the confusion between explaining and justifying before. In fact, a post about this was one of the first things I wrote for Hitting Bregma. As much as I hate it, so many things go unanswered. Last night, many witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history. What we think we know is that a man named Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel room into a country music concert below. As of now, 58 are dead and more than 500 injured (unclear how many were injured by gunshot, and how many were injured in the frenzy during the shooting). This horrific event seems, at least for now, without explanation. For me, that makes it even worse than it already is.

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Ups and downs

The past day (or so) has been hard for me. The events in Charlottesville have taken an emotional toll, and it’s been almost nonstop fighting on FaceBook since then. I’m so saddened that anybody would turn a blind eye to the President’s reluctance to take sides against Nazis, but my FaceBook threads, and those of others, are full of horrible defenses of what President Trump said and failed to say in response to the events. The last post came before the President’s first statement, and that was when my disgust really started.

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“It’s all about trust”

My wife has some strong opinions about things, and some of them she raises over and over again. One (of the many) with which I agree is that trust plays a fundamental role in how we feel about our leaders. We trust some leaders, and we don’t trust others. If we trust a leader, we assume that some action is legitimately justified. If we don’t trust a leader, that same action can be nefarious or a sign of incompetence. I’ll come back to something more contemporary in a minute, but let’s start with Obama and Bush.

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More distractions and straw men

I’ve been posting a lot on FaceBook (as me, not as Hitting Bregma) about the lousy journalism and logical fallacies I’m seeing on FoxNews. I don’t watch a ton of FoxNews, but I flip over somewhat regularly, just to see what’s going on. Many of these times, I’m struck by how different the coverage is. For instance, while all the other networks (regular networks and cable news) are focused on one story, like a new leak about something from the Trump administration, FoxNews will run a story about a person killed by an immigrant in a hit and run, or something equally unrelated to what everybody else is covering. I’ve also spent a lot of time harping on the classic straw man fallacies that they are so good at. They construct this ludicrous picture of a “liberal” or something that liberals are mad about, and then justifiably call them silly or hypocritical. The problem is that the whole premise gets it wrong. It’s not just FoxNews, but it’s also clearly a tactic of the Trump administration. Let’s look at a couple of key examples, including one from today.

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