Tuesday morning thinkytimes

No particular theme for today, as there are a number of things on my mind and none of them quite rise to the level of an entire post. So expect a bit of randomness. Good morning!


I had a LASIK initial conference almost exactly two years ago, and holy shit does the post I’m linking to entertain the crap out of me, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I think it’s something I can actually afford to do. The only question is whether it’s a good use for my money right now; part of me thinks right now is a really good time because I was thinking about switching to contact lenses anyway to keep my glasses from fogging up every time I wear a mask– if I’m heading into a situation this fall where I have to be wearing one all day, and it’s already summertime so I have time to recover, it seems like a good decision. Then again, it’s a good chunk of my existing money, and who knows what kind of bullshit could happen that could lead to me needing it for something else.

If you have any experiences with LASIK, good or bad, let me know– most of the folks I’ve talked to have told me to go for it, but still.


I had to have a talk with the boy the other day where I pointed out that it’s okay to feel like certain things in our house have gotten easier and/or better since Mizu died. I do not miss, for example, having a litter box in my Goddamned bedroom because she didn’t want to leave the room, and the fact that we no longer have to worry about the other cats bothering her means we can leave doors open in our house and don’t have to worry about ever chasing kittens out from under our bed.

Sushi, for her part, has been rather hilarious lately, as she’s been spending most of her time in our room but still doesn’t seem quite convinced that she’s allowed in there, so whenever either of us come into the bedroom she acts like she’s about to be kicked out of the room. She’ll sleep on the bed with us from time to time but sticks herself in the far corner where we’re not super likely to notice her.


I have to admit, I had a bunch of ideas for how the person in the White House’s little Klan rally was going to go last weekend, but “no one shows up” was not among them. I spent all of 2016 assuming this man was going to lose badly and we all know how that went, so I’m not letting my guard down here, but if he can’t fill a mid-sized arena in Oklahoma, pandemic or not, something’s going on.

In other news, there are two primaries I’m keeping a close eye on today– Qasim Rashid’s Democratic House primary in VA-01 and the Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky. Kentucky looks like it’s going to be a trash fire, and I’ve not seen any polling on either race, but I’d like to start sending money to someone to get Mitch McConnell the fuck out of office and I’m not going to do it until the primary is over. I’ve donated a fair amount of money to Qasim already because I thought he had gotten out of the primary– I just found out a couple of weeks ago that I was wrong about that– so hopefully he wins today as well.

Also, no force on Earth can make me pay for John Bolton’s book, nor will I read it were I to somehow acquire it for free. I don’t need any further evidence on whether this man is a criminal or not.


Bike/health update: I have, somehow, lost seven pounds already; every time I start any sort of lifestyle change there’s always a quick burst of weight loss right at the beginning, and it’s happened again. Weight Watchers continues to confuse the hell out of me. I have not touched the bike in several days, because the last time I was on it I noticed that the gear the chain was on and the actual gear shown on the gearshift didn’t match … like, at all, and since I’d already switched gears at least once by accident without realizing it I’m going to just take the thing into a shop and have them swap it out, possibly taking the derailleur with it as well. I’ve already fallen off once and I’m not about to do it again, damn it. I suspect this is probably something I could do myself but finding out I was wrong would hurt and we’ve already got one adult in the house with a broken bone.

Pseudo-vegetarianism is going predictably well, although we did have enchiladas for dinner on Saturday and I finished off some turkey we had in the fridge to keep it from going bad. Most of this week’s dinners are going to be plant-based, so we’re continuing it for a bit longer than usual.


Vidya gaemz update: my plan to watch a YouTuber play through The Last of Us 2 appears to have been a good call, as so far nothing about the first few hours of the game have made me think I needed to play it. One thing I hadn’t anticipated is that lingering Dad feelings toward Ellie are still making it difficult to watch her die, and yeah, I don’t really need that shit for an entire game. Watching people react to the game has been really interesting; I’ve never seen a game where so many people looked at the level of violence and went “Nope, not right now” before.

In the meantime, I’ve been having a good time with Desperados 3, despite my lingering suspicion that Desperados is spelled wrong. The interesting thing is that it’s also a really murdery game– hell, so was Nioh 2, and so are most video games, frankly– but it’s all about the way it’s murdery, and it doesn’t go out of its way to make you feel bad about what the game is making you do.

The dialogue around this whole issue has also put the “Are video games art?” question to bed, permanently. The answer is yes.


I feel like I had one more thing, so let’s say this space is reserved for that. As is typical with these sorts of posts, I may update once or twice more as the day drags on.


11:18 AM, Tuesday, June 23: 2,313,445 confirmed infections and 120,451 Americans dead, and Texas is starting to run out of ICU beds.

On #8cantwait, defunding the police, and reform

I went on a little bit of a tear this morning about incrementalism, police reform, and the “defund the police” … movement? Hashtag? thing, and it occurs to me that part of the problem is that I don’t know what to call it. One thing that has been true about me for a while is that I am nearly always in favor of taking small steps that get me closer to an overall goal. That doesn’t mean I don’t want the goal, or that if the chance arrives to achieve the goal I won’t jump at it– but if we have a chance to move closer I’m always going to take it even if it doesn’t solve all existing problems anyway. The notion that we can make progress toward solutions is one that I believe in pretty strongly.

To wit, health care: I think health care should be free or close to it at the point of delivery and that everyone should have health insurance, and I believe health insurance should be covered by taxes. I don’t necessarily care about how that is enacted– if you can put a plan in front of me that has a chance to pass and keeps for-profit health insurance companies in business while enacting that goal, or at least part of that goal, chances are I’ll support it. I think ultimately we need to move away from the notion of for-profit health insurance– that, in fact, it is a moral abomination– but it’s not going away tomorrow, and in the meantime anything we can do to keep people alive and fight off living in a world where medical bankruptcy is a thing is good. I am a realist, though, and I live in America, and I don’t think that private insurance companies are getting abolished tomorrow, so I’m not going to stomp my feet about Medicare for All and hold my breath.

Similarly, police reform. This is complicated to talk about, because when we talk about “defunding police,” the meaning of that term slides around kind of hideously depending on who you’re talking about. I am always entertained when I hear elected officials or, really, anyone talking about guns and saying things like no one is coming to take away your guns, because I am absolutely coming to take away your guns. Similarly, there appear to be a contingent of people who, when they say “defund the police,” they mean exactly that, and then there’s another contingent of people– who may or may not be trying to appropriate the phrase from the first contingent– who actually mean “cut their budgets, but keep them around.”

Those are not the same thing, and that’s kind of a problem.

And then there are organizations like #8cantwait, which has its own problems, namely surprisingly dodgy statistics and studies for something Sam Sinyangwe has put his name to, as he’s always seemed like a pretty straightforward guy. I would take that 72% number with a grain of salt. But I do think that enacting these types of policies would, in fact, reduce police violence, and even if the goal is (laudably!) to eliminate police violence, maybe we do things that aren’t going to get us all the way there in one stroke anyway because they’ll help? Some of those 8 items would even increase police budgets, or at least would without commensurate cuts elsewhere– training costs money, for example– and that’s an automatic nonstarter for (some of) the Defund folks, especially the Defund/Abolish wing. I’m willing to spend some extra taxpayer money if it keeps people alive.

And, of course, there is the fact that Eric Garner (and, I’m sure, others) was killed with a chokehold that has been banned in New York since 1993, so clearly the policy didn’t keep him alive. But laws don’t actually stop crime! We know this! It’s not controversial! What laws do is allow us to punish people when they commit those crimes, and you can’t go after a cop for using a banned chokehold if the chokehold isn’t banned.

It is utterly ludicrous, to me, to claim that you want police violence stopped and to simultaneously be against enacting a policy that police can’t use chokeholds. And I would like to see better data on how well these policies work— if police departments having such a policy doesn’t change anything, then by all means don’t bother– but I don’t see much of a down side in banning something like a choke hold while we try to collect better data. I mean, that should lead to fewer people being choked, right? It surely won’t lead to more choking.

I am sympathetic to the lower-case D defund people, and I’m absolutely willing to listen to the defund-and-abolish crew; I just downloaded Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing (because a paper copy cannot be found, which strikes me as a good thing) and I intend to read it soon, and me being me I’m sure I’ll find other books about it to read as well. But my initial feeling is that such a thing isn’t going to fly in America. I’d love to be wrong, but I live in a country where 40% of the populace still approves of the syphilitic Adderall addict in the White House. We are not abolishing the police anytime soon even if it’s a good idea.

So what sorts of things do I think we should do? Here, have a list in no particular order:

  • I really don’t see any reason not to encourage wholesale adoption of the #8cantwait agenda. It’s not going to solve all of our problems, but even if it doesn’t help as much as I hope I certainly don’t see it making things worse.
  • Police unions should be abolished. Police are not workers. This is a big part of the problem, because Republicans don’t want to criticize police and Democrats don’t want to criticize unions. They’re not the same as workers and they shouldn’t have the same protections. Police unions have to go.
  • Police should not even carry guns most of the time. I’m okay with keeping one in the car or something but the vast majority of police work does not require the cop to be armed.
  • It should be widely recognized that killing someone on the job is literally the worst thing a cop can do. No police officer who has killed someone, justified or otherwise, should still be on the streets. I don’t mind them having desk jobs, but once you kill somebody you should be done patrolling.
  • Police should be required to be licensed and degreed (four years!) to at least the same extent as teachers are. Police licensure should be temporary and revocable in the case of misconduct, and there should be at least state-by-state databases keeping track of them.
  • Police officers dismissed for cause or who have their license revoked in one state cannot move to another state and apply for a new one. Similarly, this information should be public– you can look up my teachers’ license; I should be able to see theirs as well.
  • Review boards with actual teeth, staffed by civilians.
  • “Kettling” and blocking access to public transit during protests should be banned. Protesters should always have the option to leave, particularly when “failure to disperse” is something cops arrest protesters for.
  • I want a nationwide, comprehensive, detailed, publicly accessible database on the use of force by police departments.
  • Deescalation training should be mandatory, frequent, and used. Again, I want the police held to at least the same standards that teachers are.
  • Use of tear gas, LRAD devices, rubber bullets and any sort of other military hardware by police officers is banned, and the sale of surplus military hardware to police departments is ended immediately. Tear gas is a fucking war crime if you use it on opposing armies; there is no reason for its use to be so routine against American citizens.
  • Any officer found to have turned off his or her bodycam or covered his or her badge number and/or name while on duty is fired immediately, end of discussion, no exceptions.
  • Tangentially related, perhaps, but private prisons should be abolished. We can talk about prison abolition in general sometime if y’all like but private prisons are an obscenity.
  • End qualified immunity.
  • It should be illegal for police to have sex with people in custody, because are you fucking kidding how are there not already policies against this???
  • Police should have to carry malpractice insurance the same way doctors do. Settlements are paid out of that insurance fund or out of pensions, not out of taxpayer pockets.
  • Police are not automatically dispatched when a call to EMS or fire departments is made.
  • Police are provided with free and ready access to counseling and mental health services.

That’s a start, I think; I’ll add into the list as the day goes on if I come up with more. None of these policies are going to stop police violence, of course, but again: you have to decrease police violence before you can stop it.

Yell at me in comments if you like, but be aware I am a bit short-tempered today.


4:06 PM, Monday, June 8: 1,954,236 confirmed cases and 110,845 Americans dead. The site I pull this data from had spiked to over 116k dead earlier today; it’s rolled back now, so I assume there was some sort of data entry error.

Some local election musings; also, math

I did vote by mail– several weeks ago, in fact– but I did not get a sticker. They shoulda included one in the envelope with the ballot, dammit.

Also, the bike has just arrived, so there will probably be another post tonight as I break it trying to put it together. And then I will ride it for the first time– and hell no, that’s not being recorded, I don’t love you enough– fall off, and break a leg, and then we can all agree never to talk about this foolish decision again.

Anyway, Indiana had a primary yesterday. I haven’t talked about it a lot on the blog, because most of my audience isn’t in the Michiana area, much less South Bend specifically, so it wouldn’t be terribly relevant, but there were two local referendum questions on the ballot specifically to raise money for the school district I work for. I have been pretty well convinced for the entirety of this process that we were going to lose; amazingly, it looks like we have won on both counts.

(This is the part where I do math. Skip what’s in between the dividers if you don’t want to see it, but I’d appreciate someone checking my thought process.)


The vote has been stuck at 83% reporting since maybe 9:00 last night; I suspect because absentee ballots account for the remainder of what needs to be counted and that’s going to take a bit longer. However:

So, for question 1, there have been 18,413 ballots cast and Yes currently has a lead of 3,237 votes. I’m going to make the assumption that precincts are roughly the same size, which may not be especially reasonable, which suggests that there are (18413/83 = 221.84, x 100 = 22,184 -18413 = 3,771) 3,371 ballots still left to be counted. I find it highly unlikely that only 134 people who voted absentee voted Yes on question 1, so I think it’s fair to say this passed.

Question 2 is a bit hairier, but using the same process: 18,325 ballots cast, suggesting 22,078 total votes, meaning 3,753 votes are left to be counted against a margin of 2,117. So the vote-by-mail folks would have to break 56-44 against the referendum when all in-person voting was 56-44 for the referendum. That’s possible, but I think it’s unlikely, so I think 2 probably passes as well, but with a lower margin of victory and a higher margin of error.

This is good news! There has not been much of that in 2020 so far. All sorts of fucking awful shit was going to happen in my district without this money. There is still room for plenty more awful shit to happen over the summer, but at least this particular avenue for awfulness looks like it’s probably been closed off.


In other might-be-interesting news: 8% of Republicans voted for Bill Weld, and 76% of Democrats voted for Joe Biden. I was not among them; I sent in my primary ballot before it became sufficiently clear that Tara Reade was not to be trusted, and for that and several other reasons (primary among them being I wanted her to win) I voted for Elizabeth Warren.

For at least the second time in a row, my Congresscritter Jackie Walorski couldn’t break 80% in her primary, even though her opponent’s only qualification for the job was having a penis. I could have sworn I’ve talked about this here in the past but can’t find the post; she’s had basically an invisible primary opponent in the last couple of elections, somebody with no fundraising and no real presence anywhere, and both times that guy has gotten 20%+ of the vote, meaning that Republicans literally shrugged and voted for someone they knew nothing about other than that he had a penis. This guy at least has a website, and the fascinating thing about it is that if you read his Issues page you could be forgiven for thinking that he’s a conservative Democrat. So they not only voted for someone who they knew nothing about, they voted for a fuckin librul, too.

He literally announces elsewhere on the page that he will accept no donations of any kind for this run, so he’s either richer than any man with that facial hair should ever be or he’s a moron. Not sure which.

Speaking of conservative Democrats: there will no doubt be some links to my posts about the last time Jackie Walorski ran for office, where the Democrats managed to run someone who had no interest in actually being a Democrat for the job. By the time the actual election rolled around I hated Mel Hall with a fairly passionate intensity, and I ended up writing in the name of my primary choice, Pat Hackett. I am very pleased to announce that Pat has won her primary and we will have an actual fucking Democrat running for office in IN-02 this year. Redistricting has made this district an uphill climb regardless, but I still think she has a chance of snatching up the seat. We’ll see. At any rate, I’ll be upping the donations I’ve been making to her campaign.

Wait, shit, is that two pieces of good news? Wow.

More later, as I unbox and then destroy the bike.


12:31 PM, Wednesday, June 3: 1,835,681 confirmed cases and 106,312 Americans dead.

An anecdote, apropos of nothing

Every so often, my wife will get into some sort of conflict with my son when I’m in another room. This isn’t something that happens a lot, mind you; once or twice a week, maybe, generally around bath- or bedtime. The details don’t really matter all that much. He’s either doing something she doesn’t want him to do, or he’s not doing something she wants him to do. Sometimes he manages both at the same time.

And my reaction, generally, is to let her handle it. Not because I don’t care, or because I think discipline is her job; we co-parent as much as we can, and on the rare occasion where we disagree on how to handle something involving him we sort it out when he isn’t around. Because here’s the thing: if my wife and son are having an issue, particularly if he’s already upset and not just being a butthead, the second I show up– even if I don’t say anything– I have escalated the situation, just by my presence. Now my son’s not scared of me, there’s no threat of physical violence here– I’ve never laid a finger on him. But if he’s already upset, the second he’s outnumbered he’s twice as upset as he was before.

I have made things worse, simply by showing up. It might be my intention to calm things down or, alternatively, to lay down the law and quell the misbehavior, but what I have done is escalated the situation.

Now let’s imagine that I walk into the room, and my belt is in my hand. I don’t say anything; I’m not screaming or yelling or carrying on. I’m just there, leather belt in hand, perhaps doubled over on itself.

That’s gonna be even worse, right? Even though I haven’t actually done anything. I’m just standing there, with my belt, and I’ve made things more frightening, more violent, more alienating, more dangerous. Just by standing there.

Funny how that works.


8:34 PM, Monday, June 1: 1,809,109 confirmed cases and 105,099 Americans dead.

Hmm let’s see

Feeling kind of bullet-pointy today, so let’s do a bits and bobs post rather than trying to construct some sort of coherent narrative:

  • After discovering at least one other teacher was doing this, I’ve decided to just go ahead and record my e-learning lessons for the rest of the year and get them all posted as fast as possible. I’m already done with the rest of this week and so I only have three more to do; they’ll probably all be finished tomorrow.
  • In theory, the kids are done on May 20, although they have until the 27th to turn in their work, and the district appears to think that we’re going to be doing trainings until school would have actually ended in June, but they haven’t actually given us any details on how that would work. I’m sure I’ll be super psyched about it once I know.
  • If you live in South Bend, you should have requested your primary ballot by now, dammit. I’d appreciate it if you’d vote yes on the referendum questions that are on the ballot so that my job can afford to keep paying me and we can invest in roofs and drinkable water and such in our buildings.
  • The usual gang of dipshits has discovered our dastardly plan to raise tax money and then spend it in such a way that it has a chance to benefit brown children, so naturally there’s a Vote No movement. I’ve only actually seen two signs about town but every time I do I have to forcibly restrain the urge to either steal the sign or drive up into people’s lawns to destroy them.
  • It is possible that the whole home-isolation thing is affecting my generally genial and go-along-to-get-along personality, I’m not sure.
  • I think Mike Pence probably has tested positive for coronavirus, because there was an announcement today that they were isolating him from that other person. I do not think that there is a single chance in hell that the White House would tell the truth about either of them being infected. Hell, I’d trust North Korean media about Kim Jong Un before I’d trust this White House to tell me the truth, and that’s kind of scary.
  • I am Back on My Shit in a number of ways recently, and in my idle moments today have been researching larger monitors for my computer (utterly unnecessary, as my iMac is already the largest possible size and I sit no more than two feet away from it, plus I already have a secondary monitor) as well as bikes for fat guys (they exist, and as far as I can tell America’s fat men have already bought them all, because none are in stock anywhere) and green screens for my office, which will become much less necessary tomorrow, when I’m done recording e-learning lessons for at least the next few months.
  • I have not been on a bike in over 30 years, as I basically learned how to ride one because my brother wanted to learn and then never did it again. If it is possible to forget how to ride a bike, I have done so. This is an exceptionally poor idea, especially given how much any bike robust enough to support my fat ass would cost.
  • I am wearing shorts. It’s not warm outside or anything like that, but it’s fucking mid-May and I’m wearing shorts because fuck you, mid-May.
  • We just ordered a new refrigerator for our garage, because I need a place to store my many beverages that will keep them cold. I do not actually drink alcohol, so yes, I’m actually envisioning an entire refrigerator filled with Pepsi, tea, Mountain Dew, and Gatorade.
  • Additional Back-On-My-Shittery: I’m back on oh man I really want to do a podcast I should buy a bunch of equipment for podcasting pay no attention to the fact that I still don’t have the vaguest idea what my podcast would be about I just wanna buy shit.
  • That said, my Blue Yeti desk microphone has finally earned back the money I spent on it over the last couple of months, as it really does sound a lot better in my videos than the internal mic on my computer. It’s also not entirely impossible that I’ll let myself invest in a better webcam than the one that’s built in, but I shouldn’t.
  • Lurking in the back of my head is the certainty that we will absolutely be needing to teach from home again this fall. That will probably be what ends up getting me to pull the trigger on the greenscreen, at least.
  • I also spent a few minutes yesterday looking into an online Ed.D, which … nah.
  • I’m listening to Post Malone right now, and this track he does with Ozzy Osbourne is amazing.
  • 3:42 PM, Tuesday May 12: 1,358,901 confirmed cases and 81,650 American deaths.