Friday, January 6, 2017

Correspondence: Skin off our noses

Edited by Moristotle

Saying something “is no skin off my nose” generally means that something isn’t much of a risk. The phrase is believed to have a boxing origin, presumably because boxers’ noses are the body part most prone to damage. [–]
    So…voters who didn’t want Trump to become President but didn’t vote, or didn’t vote for Hillary, and shrugged it off by saying, “It’s no skin off my nose,” were wrong, because there was obviously a real risk that, even without a popular majority of the votes, Trump could, and did, get at least 270 electoral votes.

You should not call Trump an asshole. He was voted in by a lot of people. People need to let things play out. What damage can he do in four years? If he turns out to be bad, he can be kicked out of office and then Pence would finish out the term. I just don’t understand why it is such a big deal for you, that you let his election interfere with your life. As for me, I have so many problems going on in my life that I can’t let a minor thing like the election, which I can’t change, run my life. I really don’t care who’s in power as far as Democrats or Republicans. I never called any President an asshole or let them get into my head.

Stephen Colbert suggests how Trump gets his information [at about 10:30]:

    Description of that segment:

Despite US intelligence findings that Russia influenced the election by hacking the DNC, Trump insisted in an interview that, “I know a lot about hacking and hacking is a very hard thing to prove. So it could be somebody else. I also know things that other people don’t know, so they can be not sure of this situation.” When asked what information he knows, the president-elect responds, “You’ll find out Tuesday or Wednesday.” Colbert finished his monologue by saying, “He needs time to digest the information before he yanks it out of his ass.” –
Our life is returning to normal. My wife’s clan just headed back to Texas. Mine just departed for DC & points further north. We return home this Sunday evening. I almost hope I’m living overseas before the next holiday get-together. But if an empty-headed fake like Trump can get elected, pretty much anything can happen, so keep hoping for (positive) miracles, for your family and everyone else.

“All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.” [–Pat Paulsen, who campaigned for President in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996, with primarily comedic rather than political objectives, although his campaigns generated some protest votes for him]

This is about as full circle as you can go: “California braces for a Trump presidency by tapping former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder for legal counsel” [Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times, January 4].
    It has always been the Republicans crying about states’ rights. And it has usually been Republican individuals fighting the federal government (for the right to refuse people service, pay workers next to nothing, etc.), but now it’ll be individuals like you & me & our LGBT and other friends fighting Trump & Pence & the Republicans (for civil rights and justice). Excerpt:

Bracing for an adversarial relationship with President-elect Donald Trump, the California Legislature has selected former U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to serve as outside counsel to advise the state’s legal strategy against the incoming administration.
    The unusual arrangement will give Holder, leading a team of attorneys from the firm Covington & Burling, a broad portfolio covering potential conflicts between California and the federal government. [read more]
I have so much to lose over the next few years that it’s difficult for me to even get up some mornings. Look at Section 6 of the online GOP platform. They want to strip away people’s rights under the cynical hypocrisy of freedom of religion. The GOP explicitly aims to re-legalize discrimination at all levels. They also want to take away medical marijuana. The lives of those of us living with chronic pain could become a living hell. We may have no choice but to leave the country. But the bright side of this is that it takes a bully to make the victim strong. I predict that over the next two years we will see the young people of this country confront politics in a way we haven’t seen since Viet Nam. Trump, Pence, and the GOP are following the best possible playbook to build up a liberal force the likes of which haven’t existed in any of our lifetimes. That’s my hope.

Unless I have committed some unconscious act of commission, such as sending you a raging, drunken rage that was meant for The Donald, then any silence has stemmed from a busy life being lived. We are all fine, having finished an abnormal year of too much travel, too much politics, and too much of other stuff, that left me too much expended. At in-laws now with too many relatives.

If individuals who actually care about the public good ever again make up a strong majority of Congress and control the United States government – in 20, 30, 40 years maybe? – I pray they will devise a procedure that works (in a way the Electoral College did not) to reject a demagogue and prevent him from desecrating the Office of President. “The Snapchat Presidency of Donald Trump” [David Brooks, NY Times, January 3]. Excerpt:
Donald Trump [ha]s tweeted out policy gestures in recent weeks...gestures [that] aren’t attached to anything...[that] seem to spring spontaneously from his middle-of-night feelings. They are astoundingly ambiguous and defy interpretation.
    Normal leaders serve an office. They understand that the president isn’t a lone monarch. He is the temporary occupant of a powerful public post. He’s the top piece of a big system, and his ability to create change depends on his ability to leverage and mobilize the system. His statements are carefully parsed around the world because presidential shifts in verbal emphasis are not personal shifts; they are national shifts that signal changes in a superpower’s actual behavior.
    Donald Trump doesn’t think in that way, either. He is anti-system. As my “PBS NewsHour” colleague Mark Shields points out, he has no experience being accountable to anybody, to a board of directors or an owner. As president-elect, he has not begun attaching himself to the system of governance he’ll soon oversee....
    When Trump issues a statement, it may look superficially like a policy statement, but it’s usually just a symbolic assault in some dominance-submission male rivalry game. It’s trash-talking against a rival, Barack Obama, or a media critic like CNN. Trump may be bashing Obama on Russia or the Mideast, but it’s not because he has implementable policies in those realms. The primary thing is bashing enemies.
    Over the past weeks, we’ve treated the president-elect’s comments as normal policy statements uttered by a normal president-elect. Each time Trump says or tweets something, squads of experts leap into action, trying to interpret what he could have meant, or how his intention could lead to changes in American policy.
    But this is probably the wrong way to read Trump...His statements should probably be treated less like policy declarations and more like Snapchat. They exist to win attention at the moment, but then they disappear....
    [H]is bromance with Putin will end badly. The two men are both such blustery, insecure, aggressive public posturers, sooner or later they will get in a schoolyard fight. [read more]
What kind of doggie is this?

GED examination question & answer (from an 18-year-old):
    Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections?
    A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election.

There were four million people in the Colonies, and we had Jefferson and Paine and Franklin. Now we have [three hundred and nineteen] million and we have [Trump and Pence]. What can you draw from this? Darwin was wrong. [–Mort Sahl, actually commenting on Bush and Quayle]

Here’s an interesting read : “Rewriting the Code of Life” [Michael Specter, New Yorker, January 2]. Among other things it has the first explanation in terms I fully understand of the “gene drive.” Also the first assertion I’ve seen that gene editing and dissemination can easily become a home-hobby technology. A hair-raising prospect. Excerpt:
Until CRISPR came along [Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat], biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation. A mutation that blocked the parasite responsible for malaria, for instance, could be engineered into a mosquito and passed down every time the mosquito reproduced. Each future generation would have more offspring with the trait until, at some point, the entire species would have it.
    There has never been a more powerful biological tool, or one with more potential to both improve the world and endanger it. Esvelt hopes to use the technology as a lever to pry open what he sees as the often secretive and needlessly duplicative process of scientific research. “The only way to conduct an experiment that could wipe an entire species from the Earth is with complete transparency,” he told me. “For both moral and practical reasons, gene drive is most likely to succeed if all the research is done openly. And if we can do it for gene drive we can do it for the rest of science.”
    At the meeting on Nantucket, Esvelt assured residents that he and his team fully understood the implications of manipulating the basic elements of life. He said that he regards himself not just as a biologist but as the residents’ agent; if they stop showing interest in the research, he will stop the experiments. He also insists that he will work with absolute openness: every e-mail, grant application, data set, and meeting record will be available for anyone to see. Intellectual property is often the most coveted aspect of scientific research, and Esvelt’s would be posted on a Web site. And no experiment would be conducted unless it was approved in advance—not just by scientists but by the people it is most likely to affect. “By open, I mean all of it,” Esvelt said, to murmurs of approval. “If Monsanto”—which, fairly or not, has become a symbol of excessive corporate control of agricultural biotechnology—“did something one way,” he said, “we will do it the opposite way.” [read more]

Grateful for correspondence, Moristotle


  1. It took me two days to read this it was so long. Not much cheer to be had from anyone.

    1. It's a gloomy time, and bromides and cheerful platitudes do not avail.