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Some Local News

Posted by Ogged
on 05.31.19

Thirty-five years ago, Chicago had a progressive African-American mayor in Harold Washington and he was thwarted by a group of thoroughly corrupt white alderman led by Ed Vrdolyak (who has since served a prison sentence) and Ed Burke. Today, Chicago has another progressive African-American mayor in Lori Lightfoot, and Ed Burke is still an alderman, and still at it. He has a reputation, in addition to being corrupt, for using his knowledge of the rules of the council to get his way. But what he tried to pull a couple of days ago with Lightfoot was pure trolling and gamesmanship.

Burke rose to complain about the City Council rules drafted by the Lightfoot administration.

His problem, he said, was they were not "gender-neutral" and that, according to Burke, was rather egregious, considering the fact that Lightfoot is Chicago's first African American female and openly gay mayor and only the second woman to serve as chief executive in the city's history.
"In reviewing this, Madame President, I think that there's a serious flaw in the proposal on rules. For instance, Rule 2 provides as follows, `The clerk parenthesis or someone appointed to fill his place.' It's not gender-neutral," Burke said.
"In Rule 4: `The presiding officer shall preserve order and decorum and may speak to points of order and preference to other members, rising from `his' seat. It's not gender-neutral. And clearly, the presiding officer of this body is a her. That should provide `his or her.'"

Chicago being Chicago, Burke was under indictment as this was going on, but that hasn't slowed him down much. But Lightfoot is herself an experienced attorney and wasn't having it.

"Anything further, alderman?" the mayor said.

Burke cited five more "mistakes." Lightfoot was running out of patience.
"Ald. Burke, you've been in the City Council for approximately 50 years. Is that correct?" the mayor said in questioning honed as a federal prosecutor.
"Yes, your honor," Burke replied.
"And you're a lawyer. Is that also correct?" she said.
"Yes, your honor," Burke said.
"You're aware that, under terms of the law and particularly as provided in the municipal code, that gender, whether it's designated as his or her, applies with equal force. So, if you're making an objection, please make it so we can move forward," Lightfoot said.
"Is your general concern that the rules have a gender designation and not `his or her.' Is that the gist of it? Is there any other thing that you want to call to the chair's attention?"
When Burke said there was not, Lightfoot said, "Alright. So, sir, we'll take your issue under advisement and we're gonna move forward."
The crowd gathered in the chambers to witness Lightfoot's first meeting dissolved into applause.

And yesterday the indictment against Burke was significantly expanded. With great sorrow, I'm sure, Lightfoot has called on him to resign. Maybe things will be different this time.


 

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Guest Post - Military Bias

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.31.19

Lurid Keyaki writes: This article is long but thought-provoking. It came out last year around the time I (and "everyone") was singlemindedly focused on the family separations at the border, but Adam Serwer on Twitter revived it for this Memorial Day, so I read it. Who doesn't like to argue about the U.S. military? It's really fucking bleak.

Yes, I have taken the bias of the author and venue into account in my estimation. I think it's worth a read.

As a chaser (actually stiffer drink), less message, more carnage. Same caveat about bias.

Heebie's take: Ugh, the human toll of war is one of those topics that's overwhelming to think directly about for too long. Recently there was a NYT article, The Moral Clarity of Slaughterhouse-Five at 50, and I was reminded of how good a book it is. The article highlighted this quote:

I have told my sons that they are not under any circumstances to take part in massacres, and that the news of massacres of enemies is not to fill them with satisfaction or glee. I have also told them not to work for companies which make massacre machinery, and to express contempt for people who think we need machinery like that.

(It's not actually easy to express such contempt when I meet pro-military people in real life, because there's too big a communication gap and information gap as to what lies behind my contempt. Maybe propaganda gap is a better description. Contempt would be interpreted as contempt for the courage and bravery of the foot soldier or something, rather than contempt for the decision-makers.)


 

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Guest Post - Save the Cows

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.30.19

Moscha writes: AIHMHBMTO, I know nothing about India. I do know though, that Hindus have a thing about cows, and the BJP, being Hindu nationalists, have made a thing of the thing. I had been hoping they would take a beating in the elections, but no, increased majority. So gau raksha are here to stay. The mob violence is nothing new, but this seems worse to me -- totally symbolic, deeply impractical, highly divisive policy built on blood-and-soil bullshit, involving persecution of Muslims and Dalits, and what looks to me like the kernel of a national party militia forming around it.

Union minister Mahesh Sharma called the lynching an "accident" [...] one of the Dadri accused, [...] Sisodia's body was also draped in the Indian flag, a symbol usually reserved for national heroes. In spite of the brutal nature of the crime, all the Dadri accused have got bail and are out of jail now. [...] Two months later, five men from a nomadic tribe were beaten to death in Maharashtra. [...] The reign of gau raksha gangs on highways in North and West India means a collapse of the vital cattle economy in these regions. [...] In December, 2018, gau rakshaks shot dead a police officer in Bulandshar, Uttar Pradesh, even filming his dead body.

Unemployed youths are gravitating towards Gau Raksha to feel important, and to be treated with respect. [...] "Many struggling youngsters get in touch with us because we are associated with people who are in a position to recruit. And quite a few of the youngsters have gotten jobs due to our referral."

Expenses to build cattle shelters [rather than slaughtering them] alone would require 202,350 hectares of land and a capital expenditure of some US$142.8 billion. The annual cost of fodder and veterinary care would be an additional US$77.1 billion. "This is about 1.5 times India's total defence budget and about 35 times what the central and all state governments together spend on animal husbandry and dairy at present," Rawal said. These animals would need millions of tonnes of fodder and more drinking water than what is now available to all Indians, he added.

Rana said at least 60 per cent of barley plantlets in the last two months have been ruined by stray cattle. [...] Farmers add that on an average they used to get ₹30,000-40,000 for a milch cow. "Now, it has dropped to ₹10,000-15,000,"

A dish that previously cost ₹15 to ₹20 a plate and provided cheap sustenance for the poor is now ₹30 to ₹35. Not all small business owners are able to purchase the higher priced meats.

"I used to pay ₹200 to 400 for a quintal of fodder last year, now I pay ₹1,200 for the same amount," [...] This atonement process [for cow killing, cost] up to ₹15,000 to complete the required rites. [...] A village-level survey conducted the same year by SKMS with IIT-Delhi found abysmal levels of protein consumption among the rural population. [...] Many factors have led to this decline in diets, but the stray cattle problem is severely hampering efforts to change the state of affairs.

"We sow peppermint soon after wheat is harvested. Nilgai and stray cattle target other crops, but don't venture near peppermint fields.

Heebie's take: Just to be explicit, what I'm getting from this is that vigilante groups of Hindu nationalists are terrorizing Muslims, Dalit, and indigenous communities, and the violent rhetoric hinges on the fact that these groups eat beef or are involved in beef production.

Analogies are super banned, but can we draw parallels to the pro-life movement in the US? I saw a tweet recently to the effect of "Fetuses are the safest thing to get worked up over, because they don't talk, have opinions, need food and education, etc, etc, etc. It's a way to oversimplify the hazards of actually taking care of your fellow humans." The same sentiment might apply to this cow protection business.

Those collateral costs above are extraordinary.


 

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ADD

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.29.19

So, Pokey has been on ADHD meds for about five months, and at the same time, we switched him to a different classroom, and together he's had a completely different, better spring than the semester he had last fall.

A common thing is for the various doctors to give us instructions, with the subtext of, "Are you the ADD parent?" ie "If you miss a dose, this one doesn't matter, but this one really matters, so some parents do X, Y, and Z to help them remember. Are you forgetful about things like that?" (Pokey got the AD from me and the HD from Jammies.)

I don't think I actually have complete ADD, but it's been a lens through which I've been analyzing my own behavior over the past few months. There are definitely traits (sensory and organizational), and there are definitely domains (home), and there are definitely things which exacerbate my tendencies (parenting).

I occasionally find myself fantasizing about getting a prescription of Focalin and how it would allow me to sit down and do the things which I've been putting off for years. But other times I think, "This is just the human condition. Humans are scatterbrained and disorganized. I've done okay over the past 41 years, and I yam what I yam."

A funny thing about discipline: Trainer A owned my gym for the past two years. Trainer A often talked about how the first three months, when he was running the gym nearly entirely by himself, was the hardest thing he'd ever done and ground him down to a pulp. He stopped exercising, gained weight, was barely hanging on, etc.

Trainer B has now owned the gym for the past month. He's also doing it nearly by himself. But he hasn't quit his job at the Amazon Warehouse, so he's working three overnights a week, as well. He's tired, and I don't think this could be a long term routine, but it's working for him, for now.

What I'm trying to say is that yes, maybe I'd benefit from Focalin, but I'm also more like Trainer A than Trainer B, and some people just work a lot harder than I do. Some people really are more disciplined than me.

See how this is a topic that I've been going in circles on? What would you like to be medicated for?


 

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Old Town Road

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.28.19

Here's how the story was explained to me: Nicki Minaj has a group of internet trolls. One of these trolls is a 19 year old kid in Atlanta. He samples Billy Ray Cyrus and writes a very short song called Old Town Road. (♫ "I got these horses in the back..." ♫) Using his internet skillz and Tik Tok and other teen technology, it gets insanely popular. This all starts in December 2018.

Since the Billboard charts now incorporate youtube hits, it quickly makes it onto three charts simultaneously: the country charts, the R&B charts, and the regular Billboard chart. Then the song gets kicked off the country charts, despite other crossover hits that are allowed, and you may even suspect correctly that it had something to do with the artist, Lil Nas X.

So then! Billy Ray Cyrus reaches out to the kid and says, "Congratulations! You're now an outlaw, like me and Waylon Jennings and Willie!" Which is itself rich on many different levels, not the least that BRC considers himself an outlaw comrade to Willie and Waylon.

Then in April, Billy Ray and Lil Nas X then remake the song into a more polished version. Both the rougher and polished versions have hit #1 on the regular Billboard chart. Hawaii tells me that the fourth grade boys at her school all bellow out this song every single day.

Here is the original, and here is the remake. Fun fact: it is the shortest #1 song since 1965. (I should like the song. I love frivolous silly pop music, and I like the origin story. But it just leaves me cold, unfortunately.)

This has been your regularly scheduled dose of pop culture. FWIW, Thrillist and Wikipedia more or less substantiate my version of the story, modulo details.


 

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Guest Post - Lawyers

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 05.27.19

Chill writes: I hear the Unfoggetariat has lawyers, and I'm not sure the Harvard House Dean's demotion is of enough interest, but the story keeps getting recycled. Actually, maybe the story getting so much attention is itself the story. CNN, NPR, the New York Times [the WSJ, the Atlantic, omg everybody] want to have a very serious discussion about the importance of lawyers taking on unpopular clients when it's friggin Harvey Weinstein. Here are some links: NYT column by Ronald Sullivan's colleague, very pro-Sullivan, anti-student activists.
Here's Jerry Coyne, and evolutionary biologist. Coyne also comes down on the side of "students should be educated about the importance of lawyers taking on unpopular clients"
Here's Atrios/Duncan Black: "sorry you lost your dorm apartment for taking huge bags of money to defend a scumbag"
Here's Paul Campos at LGM, in the same vein as Atrios.

What I can't locate is some quotes from Sullivan attacking defendants, quotes that would not encourage me to go to him to report sexual assault.

I'm with Atrios. Totally appropriate to remove him as house dean.

Heebie's take: The colleague in the first link would make a stronger case if he didn't reveal himself to be a giant dick:

Student opposition to Mr. Sullivan has hinged on the idea of safety -- that they would not feel safe confiding in Mr. Sullivan about matters having to do with sexual harassment or assault given his willingness to serve as a lawyer for Mr. Weinstein. Let's assume the good faith of such declarations (though some are likely mere parroting). Even still, they should not be accepted simply because they represent sincere beliefs or feelings.

Anyway, Atrios and LGM eviscerate the other two. Atrios:

I, too, think all people should get adequate defense and think that lawyers should generally not be criticized for taking on clients, even ones accused of doing horrific things. I am not sure how this inviolate principle, which most people talking about just decided was important 3 days ago, extends to the idea that the undergraduate college at Harvard University should never consider whether someone's third (!!!) job might conflict with their second. No one's trying to banish the guy from polite society for agreeing to earn buckets of money to defend Harvey Weinstein (although to be honest, if lawyers make their reputations defending high profile clients, I don't see why this can't break them, too, but I digress...).
The idea that lawyers should be able to defend scumbags (fair!) does not mean that lawyers are free from all criticism and it certainly does not mean that another employer could ever find a reasonable conflict between their lawyer job and their non-lawyer job of running a college dorm.

 

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