I had another post ready to go, since I'm busy cosplaying Suburban American Family this weekend.* But really, this thing with the three expelled representatives in Tennessee is completely bonkers. It seems to transcend to a new literal level of fascist government, where it's hard to describe what happened factually without seeming panicky.
What I mean is: like we've said since 2016, the whole system is held together with decorum and etiquette. If you're not familiar with the flimsy netting of etiquette, then it's not obvious when someone has lit a whole new section of it on fire, like the Tennessee lawmakers have done here. Because in other ways, you're already allowed to be super rude and crass. It's not considered that big a deal to run a slanderous campaign ad full of lies, for example.
In regular life, kicking someone out of an elite club comes from the same bag of tricks as spreading dirty lies about them. They're both done by the same kind of person. But in this context, they're wildly different, and part of what's scary is that it's going to become a new norm without people realizing that it didn't use to be okay.
*okay this whole life.
Other Stormy Things
We were supposed to go camping tonight through Saturday*. Last week, the forecast looked pretty grim for this weekend. In the past five days, the forecast has been steadily predicting basically two days of rain. (We made alternate plans to go to a hotel with indoor water park.)
I am very much enjoying this weather site, which gives a 72 hour radar forecast, complete with little vector field lines. (I'm excited to use this map in Cal III in a week or two when we get to vector fields.)
My point is: god bless those meteorologists. The rain showed up this morning, exactly on schedule. We don't spend nearly enough time marveling that we literally get foretold the future, fairly accurately, all the time. I am so deeply happy that we are not camping out in this mess.
*what, your schools and public institutions don't shut down for the universally nondenominational holiday of Good Friday?
Guest Post: The Law and Order Vote
Mossy Character writes: A sufficiently dura mano. (El Faro is not at all pro-Bukele.)
Born in California and fueled by the arrival of people fleeing from the Salvadoran civil war (1980-1992), both the Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gangs were deported to El Salvador at the end of the 1980s. They initially grew in Central America in a void of security policy, and later, spurred by the repressive mano dura (iron fist) policy of right-wing presidents Francisco Flores (1999-2004) and Antonio Saca (2004-2009). By 2015, the annual homicide rate had skyrocketed to a record 103 for every 100,000 Salvadorans.
For decades, the gangs subjected most low-income neighborhoods in the country to their will through extreme violence. Leaders in prison or in the streets dealt in death and extorted businesses and residents, while successive governments failed to weaken their authority.
In the last several weeks, El Faro verified the absence of gang members in communities where their power was strongest. Residents, teachers, and communal leaders told El Faro that the gangs had largely disappeared and that their power had dissipated since the start of the state of exception in March 2022. They pointed to palpable signs like the suspension of extortion and other "taxes" on parking, real estate rentals, or cable TV contracts. Some marveled that restaurants, taxies, and ride hailing apps like Uber now offer services in their communities.
Numerous human rights organization and community leaders have denounced thousands of arbitrary arrests during the state of exception and cases of torture and violent death of detainees without apparent ties to gangs. El Faro has shown how the justice system is condemning people in mass trials of hundreds of people and how, in just four months under the state of exception, the country hit an all-time record of habeas corpus petitions since the end of the civil war.
Reyes warns that these realities appear to have been blotted out by the results of police and military presence in the streets: "[the gangs] will convert themselves into small mafias," he says. "With all of this he [Bukele] will be able to reelect himself as long as he wants."
It's a long thorough article that takes the side that the questionable tactics were worth it, because everyone's so relieved to get a break from the violence and extortion.
I found this a teeny bit funny:
Given the newfound lack of hierarchy, he wonders: "Am I just another delinquent, or am I a gang member?"
It reminded me of these haunting questions.
Big News Day?
I feel like anything I post will get overrun by conversation about Trump's charges. And also the Wisconsin judge election results later on.
Sent in by Chris Y, York student uses AI chatbot to get parking fine revoked:
When Millie Houlton received the notice from York City Council she said she was tempted to pay rather than spend time compiling a response.
However, the 22-year-old asked ChatGPT to "please help me write a letter to the council, they gave me a parking ticket" and sent it off.
The authority withdrew the fine notice.
This must be happening x100,000 these days, and I have to say, I don't see any problem with using ChatGPT this way. How exactly are college admissions going to deal with this? Is the mandatory performative personal essay dead?
In fact, I hadn't really considered ChatGPT as a class eraser in this way, but it's a constant thing in local politics where people inadvertently send all sorts of class signals in their public writing (ie reading outloud from a letter at City Council, letters to the editor, screeds on Facebook) that the opposition then disregards more easily because it codes lower class.
I suppose that the kind of person whose writing codes lower class is also unlikely to hop on ChatGPT to help articulate their case for city council, though.
Mostly I'm still on Team-AI-Gives-Me-Vertigo.
Guest Post -- Charley in the Bay Area
CharleyCarp writes: I'll be in the Bay Area on April 26 with nothing planned for the day or evening. Does anyone want to meet up?
Check Ins, Reassurances, and Concerns, 4/2
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.
Episode Kobe fifty seven